The ambition of the Micro Investing program is to assist farmers stuck in poverty in releasing their potential for commercial success. The NGO-led intervention is designed to kick-start this transition and then exit. We therefore need ‘exit partners’ to provide the farmers with permanent access to lasting value chains, partners that recognise the smallholders’ collective strength.


All innovative approaches start small as illustrated by the Technology Adoption Cycle, a theory that stems from third-world development research and studies of technology adoption in American agriculture at the first half of the 20th century. Our approach is to recruite lead farmers that take the role of innovators able to create enough followers to convince the “early majority” to join. As soon as the new practice reaches critical mass and a tipping point where it grows without support, the NGO intervention exits and moves on to a new district.


A successful NGO exit is made possible by leaving behind a local community of business-oriented and profitable farmers that continue to reinvest in new capacity. Knowledge transfer and delegation of tasks from the subsidised agronomist service to the local community and commercial suppliers can be based on data collected that show each farmer’s capacity and growth. The database becomes a foundation for information logistics that can support aggregation, effective transport and reliable delivery.


Demand from the urban market has been verified; restaurants, hotels and supermarkets would welcome an increase in the supply of quality produce from reliable local sources. However, market access is not available until farmers consistently offer what this structured market demands. This is why we start with the local market and collect data that are relevant to the structured market. We will track the farmers’ progress and will seek to provide the professional buyers with the information they need to become their trading partners.
The NGO-led intervention includes a search for commercial partners that can offer the smallholder farmers access to value chains in the structured market. Information is collected to kickstart information logistics for commercial partners that step in when the NGO intervention is phased out. By planning a gradual handover of tasks to its exit partners, the NGO capacity can be moved to a new district.
The technology adoption cycle (red curve) segments the target group for an innovation into five parts by risk-aversion. Micro Investing is introduced through a NGO-led intervention together with market-based partners to enable the innovative approach to ‘cross the chasm’ between early adopters and the mainstream market.