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Learning Value Chain Basics

Welcome to the Learning Value Chain Basics course, developed by USAID's Microenterprise Development office. Learning Value Chain Basics provides a conceptual understanding of value chains as a way to link small firms to economic growth opportunities, while ensuring both the incentives for and the capability to compete in and benefit from market participation.

Learning Value Chain Basics

A word map of common Value Chain termsAs described in USAID’s Value Chain Development Wiki, value chains encompass the full range of activities and services required to bring a product or service from its conception to sale in its final markets—whether local, national, regional, or global. Value chains include input suppliers, producers, processors, and buyers, as well as the support services and enabling environments that form a dynamic market system.

The Learning Value Chain Basics course focuses on USAID's value chain approach, principles, and the value chain project cycle. Designed to meet the needs of USAID staff as well as the broader development practitioner community, this course will equip staff with varied technical experience and focus to delve deeper into value chain development best practices and project design.

Course Details

Audience: This foundational course has been developed for USAID staff responsible for designing and managing value chain activities, including Washington and field-based resources focused on private sector and enterprise development, agriculture and food security, as well as related program areas such as health and natural resource management, where a value chain approach is integrated as a means to achieving development objectives.

Expected Time: The length of time to complete this course is approximately 45 minutes. It is a self-paced course that you can pause and restart the course at any time. Your progress will be retained and you can return to complete it later.

Related Courses

The courses listed below and tailored for USAID staff, are currently under development and will be available soon. We strongly recommend that you take all of the courses in the series, whether you are new to USAID projects incorporating a value chain approach, or have experience in this area. These courses take a practical approach to the following topics:

Designing a Value Chain Project (Course 2)

Coming soon...

  • Writing effective RFPs/RFAs
  • Developing scopes of work/program descriptions that reflect VC concepts and practices

Managing a Value Chain Project (Course 3)

  • Creating behavior change through VC projects
  • Empowering VC actors to avoid donor dependency
  • Establishing and encouraging vertical linkages and horizontal cooperation

Monitoring and Evaluating a Value Chain Project (Course 4)

  • Understanding M&E concepts as applied to value chain projects
  • Learning specific implications and potential solutions when monitoring and evaluating value chain programming


We encourage you to share your feedback on both the content and functionality of the course. Thank you in advance for your ideas to improve this and future Value Chain Approach e-learning series courses.