"More than Micro" Milestone 8: First Special Event with Agrilinks (October 2014)

March 22, 2016

The Milestone

A conversation on inclusive market systems development raises the question: inclusive of whom? People living in poverty fall across a wide spectrum of income and livelihood strategies, from those struggling daily to make ends meet to others who have relatively higher and more stable sources of income. This variation is as true for smallholders.

Historically, Microlinks has explored this topic in great depth, including in this high-profile seminar. Discussions on smallholders have often blurred the lines between Microlinks and Agrilinks, a sister site focused on food security and agriculture.

In October 2014, Microlinks and Agrilinks deepened their partnership in a jointly-hosted seminar entitled, ““From Smallholders to Shareholders: Optimizing Private Sector Engagement for Smallholder Impact.” Presenters explored how the private sector can access the smallholder market to the benefit of private actors and the smallholders they aim to serve.

Its Significance

According to Zachary Baquet, Knowledge Management Advisor and Data Steward for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, “When we started the Ag Sector Council (ASC) Seminar series seven years ago, I aspired to have the reach and reputation of the established and well-regarded Microlinks Seminar Series. The ASC Seminar Series has benefited greatly from the groundbreaking work done by those supporting and implementing the Microlinks events.”

Marrying Microlinks’ market systems audience with Agrilinks’ agriculture and food security audience helped facilitate a rich conversation. As Baquet remarks, “I am glad that our collaborations bring together a wider array of development professional for knowledge sharing and conversation than either of us alone.”

This seminar set a record for attendance and ignited a renewed sense of partnership between Microlinks and Agrilinks. According to Kristin O’Planick, "We always knew that these sister sites had topics that would resonate across our audiences. What we didn't realize was that our audiences had less overlap than we had assumed. Once we decided to host this joint event, the only question left was, ‘Why didn't we do it sooner?’ It was a win for everyone."

Looking Forward

The 2014 joint seminar marked the start of a concerted and continued effort for Microlinks and Agrilinks to deepen their collaboration, including our upcoming webinar on March 24 entitled, “Scaling Up Input Technology and Input Access: Clues from Zambia.” Baquet says, “I look forward to developing more joint activities between Microlinks and Agrilinks. We have many opportunities for developing synergies. Our joint seminar on March 24 highlights how viewing cases from the field from different perspectives can increase our understanding.”

We hope you’ll join us, and we encourage you to contribute to Agrilinks and Microlinks, two rich and dynamic learning communities.