Alterfin, a Belgian social investor that finances the development of social enterprises around the world, was looking to measure the tangible effects on the environment and local populations that their partner’s work has had, thanks to their financing.
For this aim, Alterfin used #FarmVoices, a narrative pulse developed by Voices That Count, inspired by the practice of SenseMaker. #FarmVoices allowed to capture the individual experiences of farmers (their stories) and, through the visualisation of patterns and trends, it enabled key actors to get a sense of the bigger picture (the cooperative level). These farmers’ stories backed up by their underlying patterns helped Alterfin and the cooperative leaders to better connect with the farmer’s real-life experiences and understand the dynamics at play.
Alterfin used #FarmVoices with Nyamurinda, an agricultural business in Rwanda that buys coffee from more than 1,400 smallholder producers before processing and selling it. A team of interviewers met with 60 producers over two days, initially for individual interviews and then for group discussions.
"Having worked in the agriculture and finance space, most of the monitoring and evaluation methodologies are very intentional: we define the questions and look for answers from farmers. What I did not realize is that we seriously risk losing perspectives that may not covered by our questions and thereby limiting our understanding of farmers’ experiences. After using #FarmVoices in Rwanda, I am convinced that allowing farmers to tell their stories by putting forward issues and events they consider most relevant, is a crucial component of their reality. This information presents great value to all stakeholders who work with them and in the sphere of development as a whole, because after all poverty is a complex lived experience." Pallavi Hariharan, Environmental & Social Impact Manager, Alterfin
Alterfin also used #FarmVoices to listen to its partners in Laos.
#FarmVoices can be used for informed decision-making but can be also utilized as a powerful monitoring tool to keep abreast of farmers’ organisations developments as part of a capacity strengthening project, inclusive business initiative or value chain development intervention.