Social Enterprises and Agricultural Value Chains in South-East Asia

Social Enterprises and Agricultural Value Chains in South-East Asia

The idea behind the «One day, one team, one chapter…» series is to present the four books published in the framework of the ICSEM Project and the Empower-SE Action, Social Enterprise in Asia, Social Enterprise in Latin America, Social Enterprise in Western Europe and Social Enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe, and to introduce the so many incredible people who took part in the crazy “ICSEM adventure”!

Making a difference in small-scale producers’ life

A large number of the poor in developing countries in Southeast Asia are marginalised women and men small-scale producers in farming, fishing and indigenous communities. This is why many social enterprises in developing countries are engaged in agriculture and agricultural value chains.

What can we learn from social enterprise best practices that have demonstrated significant impact in transforming the lives of women and men small-scale producers in Southeast Asia? This was the research question that the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) posed as it embarked on a study of best practices among social enterprises in agricultural value chains in the region. The results of the study were synthesised in a set of “Benchmarks for Transformational Partnerships and Women’s Economic Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains”. The chapter on “Social Enterprises and Agricultural Value Chains in Southeast Asia” features this study of best practices, shares what these Benchmarks are all about and what they mean for stakeholders of agricultural value chains.

As shown by the study, there are eight factors that can be observed in agricultural value chain (AVC) interventions that have succeeded in transforming the lives of women and men small-scale producers. First, these AVC interventions promote community-based innovations and appropriate technology as a means of ensuring inclusion. Secondly, they provide a combination of transactional and transformational services to effectively enable women and men small-scale producers as stakeholders in these value chains. Thirdly, they promote diversification of crops and income sources as well as resilience and food security among the small producers and their communities. Fourthly, they not only engage the small producers in production, but they also support them in moving up the value chain to perform other functions, resulting in improved positions and an increase in the share of the wealth created for these small producers. Fifthly, they promote environmental stewardship as well as the engagement of these small producers in sustainable consumption and production systems. Sixthly, they promote the empowerment of small-scale producers as leaders and members of self-governing associations or cooperatives. Seventhly, they invest in promoting women’s participation and empowerment across all value chain functions and governance structures. And finally, they promote measurable outcomes of transformation at the level of the women and men small-scale producers, their households and their communities.

The chapter concludes that, as practitioners of these Benchmarks, social enterprises are sources of innovation on how agricultural value chain interventions could substantively contribute to sustainable and equitable development. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Benchmarks may also be appreciated as guidelines for agricultural value chain practitioners to become more inclusive in their recovery efforts and to build back in a way that is fairer and more sustainable.

The author: Marie Lisa

Marie Lisa M. Dacanay, PhD, is the founding President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA). She has more than 30 years of experience in development management and consulting, social entrepreneurship and international development cooperation. She is a mentor of social entrepreneurs, a pioneer in research and education on social entrepreneurship in Asia and an advocate for developing collaborative partnerships between social enterprises, businesses and governments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As ISEA President, she convenes the Social and Community Enterprise Constituency of the Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism, which deals with the United Nations system on the SDGs. She leads a multi-stakeholder platform that promotes a set of Benchmarks and Guidelines for Transformational Partnerships and Women’s Economic Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains in Southeast Asia and beyond. She was recognized by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and World Economic Forum as Outstanding Social Innovation Thought Leader of the Year 2019. Dr. Dacanay has a degree in B.S. in Statistics (1984) from the University of the Philippines, a Master in Development Management (with distinction) from the Asian Institute of Management (1996) and a PhD from the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark (2012).

Visit the Routledge website to get information about the four ICSEM books as well as the full Social Enterprise and Social Innovation series. You can also contact these national researchers to learn more about their work or download the ICSEM Project’s flyer here.

Don’t miss more entries and news

What are you interested in?