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International Trade Centre (ITC) New Alliances for Value Chain Competitiveness

Photo: ITC logo

Geneva | Switzerland | October 2017

The pressing challenge in a dynamic and interconnected globalised economy is to devise effective trade mechanisms that are locally owned, sustainable and can be scaled to a sufficient level that impacts the livelihoods of those most in need. In order to tackle this issue, the ITC has developed the Alliances for Action (A4A) methodology,a market system based partnership approach for SME and value chain competitiveness. Its aim is to improve sustainable participation in global value chains whilst supporting impact at scale for the achievement of the SDG’s. The Senior Management Committee (SMC) of ITC validated  the A4A which means that the Alliances constitute the new approach to work in value chains. It is therefore one example of ITC’s partnership engagement with the private sector.

A market system based partnership approach for SME and value chain competitiveness

A4A is a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together private and public actors with the aim to promote competitiveness and income-risk diversification for smallholder farmers and SMEs. Above all, A4A improves commercial linkages and participation in trade by targeting value chain operators and focusing on several product-market combinations. The various Value Chain stakeholders including lead firms and support institutions work together and form market- led partnerships that enhance value chain integration, technical support, policy alignment and local institutional capacity building.

Five sequential components drive the alliances’ design, implementation, and M&E:

  • UNDERSTAND: Action-Oriented global, regional and local value chain and SME competiveness analysis;
  • CONVENE: Public-private alliances for action for selected value chain, cluster or territorial ecosystem;
  • TRANSFORM: Delivery of technical capacity building package to ‘unlock’ inclusive growth and SME and value chain competitiveness in selected sectors;
  • INVEST: Improving access to financial services and impact investment in value chains;
  • IMPACT: Participatory Value chain-based monitoring, evaluation and communication system.

As part of the overall facilitation of the Alliances for Action methodology, ITC provides support to build trust and joint visions, and to contribute to the introduction and dissemination of new ideas, sustainable practices and ethical business models by establishing linkages between the local, national and global level Alliances for Action.

The ITC works with institutions and partners to foster linkages, learning and innovation by connecting all value chain levels. A4A is designed to engage with global, national and local actors and adopt a crosscutting perspective. Implementation of the A4A at project level counts on a network of ad-honorem advisers from lead firms (brands, and multinational firms), government, NGOs, research centres, financial institutions, producer association representatives and international development agencies.

ITC’s role is to effectively and impartially manage different interests and perspectives, particularly to ensure inclusion of minority groups and to put energy and resources where they can best serve as catalysts for change. The main results in implementing A4A include: Inclusive and sustainable agribusiness partnerships, risk diversification, capacity building, as well as scalability and impact at large.

The Alliances for Action on the ground like in the Caribbean are supporting the testing of the framework of the SAFIN network on agricultural finance. A4A is going to be rolled out fully in 2018 based on the successful projects in Ghana, the Caribbean and elsewhere.


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