Case Study: The IFC and smallholder coffee suppliers in Nicaragua

ECOM is a global commodities trading company, and the major buyer of smallholder produced coffee Nicaragua. It secured a major investment from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) –part of the World Bank Group.

The challenge

ECOM wanted to examine the effectiveness of its famer-supplier value-added agronomic and other services in order to increase purchase volumes and security of supply, and expand its supply base into new locations through farmers promoting the company.

The IFC believes that its investments in emerging markets should have strong supplier relationships, particularly in agribusiness, in order to improve the livelihoods of those farmers.

The data

COVOX was contracted on behalf of ECOM to understand farmer perceptions of the supplier-farmer services program and how to improve ECOM’s services to and relationship with supplier farmers.
In close consultation with IFC and ECOM management, COVOX designed and implemented a rolling independent survey from July – September 2011 of over 800 supplier-farmers segmented into
•    Direct suppliers
•    Indirect suppliers
•    Occasional suppliers
•    Other suppliers.

Using the data

COVOX worked with ECOM management to respond to the data internally and in dialogue with stakeholder groups.
Farmer preferences and most-valued services were identified, and predictive indicators of share of crop purchase were developed. The supplier services program was modified accordingly.

A model for continuous feedback collection, reflection and response was developed.

The IFC’s evaluation framework was modified to include regular feedback from constituents or intended beneficiaries.