Producers Direct - by farmers for farmers

Transforming youth into young rural entrepreneurs empowered with skills and tech savvy to lead a South-to-South direct trade model.

Photo of Katie Messick Maddox
10 22

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Cafedirect Producers' Foundation

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1mil - $5mil

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 500 - 1,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Kenya: Nandi Hills Tanzania: Rungwe Uganda: Kayonza, Bushenyi


Facebook URL

Twitter URL


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Smallholder farmers do not have adequate access to: Farmer-led training, Financing to adopt on-farm agricultural innovations, Markets for products, or Data for smarter on-farm decision making. Engaging young people is key to addressing these challenges. Unfortunately, youth do not view farming as a viable or attractive livelihood. Rapid urbanisation paired with ageing farming populations places global food security and rural smallholder communities at risk.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Youth will unlock agriculture’s potential to create wealth for smallholder communities, transforming small farms into small businesses & young people into entrepreneurs. Smallholders will access bundled support services including in-person & digital (via WeFarm) Training in Value Addition. Financing is provided by our rotating credit fund co-financed by farmers. Youth will lead the Market access & Data components, providing in-person and digital support (via 2Kuze). Youth will lead product bundling, branding & packaging, and transport to markets. Youth will also support farmers to transform their farms into small businesses providing access to CPF’s innovative data dashboards & digital logbooks. Building on our successful Kenyan pilot selling honey, youth will scale Producers Direct to include additional products -coffee, tea, blended juices & dried fruits- across additional markets. Our model leverages relationships built over the past 8 years with 13 Producer Organisations.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Our investment in a farmer-led model has had a positive impact on 600,000 smallholder community members since 2009. Specific impact metrics include: 1) 40% of farmers building resilience to changing climates via on-farm diversification & innovation, 2) Income increases by >50% from new on-farm crops, enterprises and/or value addition, and 3) 25% of activities co-financed by farmers and/or partner Producer Organisations. Our Kenyan honey pilot has increased incomes for smallholders (including youth smallholders) by over 50%. Further training and economic opportunities have been provided for youth who are bundling, packaging and transporting honey. Youth have participated in trainings to support their entrepreneurial ambitions as well as training in tech/digital access skills. Youth will continue to play a key role in product development and distribution as well as supporting smallholders to access and use digital tools effectively.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The majority of our annual budget is comes from grant funding (Comic Relief, The Big Lottery Fund, and the Global Resilience Partnership (USAID, SIDA, Rockefeller Foundation). Remaining funds are from unrestricted impact grants/donations and corporate partnerships/contracts (MasterCard Labs, Cafedirect plc). Our work is co-financed by partner Producer Organisations, with 25% co-financing to-date. Producers Direct will return value to Producer Organisations and their smallholder members, while simultaneously providing economic opportunities for youth. Over the long-term this initiative will be self-sustaining via product sales, recognising the global market for organic foods/drinks is >US$50 billion and is increasing by 10-20% annually, with increasing demand from major African cities.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Our initiative does not limit rural young people to ‘farming’ as the only livelihood option, instead we are harnessing their innovative spirits, developing transferable skills in tech and ICT4Ag digital tools, marketing, product development and business skills. Further, we are championing a South-to South direct trade model, sourcing ethical, organic products from Producer Organisation sourcing value added organic agricultural products from smallholders living at the base of the pyramid.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Our diverse team offers decades of experience working with rural smallholder communities. We know that youth are critical to sustaining the agricultural sector, feeding future generations and protecting rural communities. Our initial “Aha!” moment was the creation of ‘Youth Innovation Hubs’ upon recognising youths key role in developing the WeFarm digital platform and their positive engagement in a tech platform - something linked to agriculture that was not farming. Since we have been working tirelessly to identify the best way to engage youth and to identify viable economic opportunities, returning value to youth and entire smallholder communities. Producers Direct returns value and improves the quality of life for youth and smallholder farmers (including youth farmers!) and their families, offering a viable business model promoting a south-to-south direct trade model.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:


Hello Katie Greetings from Oaxaca to the south of Mexico. Very interesting and I hope you continue on that path, you achieve your goals, to help Emponderar To the young people and those farmers who are there in the countryside or rural environment, which make it produce despite their limitations. By adding value to your products, you are given identity and a story to tell, consumers consent to pay and help us make that happen. I hope we can maintain communication, a hug for you and the whole team, please trasmítelo those young people from Africa. Marcela Solis

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