In October 2016, Business for Development’s Kwale Project was awarded Project to Watch from the Shared Value Project. Business for Development sees itself as a broker of inclusive business for smallholder farmers and we look to partner with innovative businesses to leverage and create an inclusive business which includes poor communities into its value chain, generating shared value for the business and those communities. As a result, we look to create growth, productivity, profits and new opportunities for the business, at the same time generating income and wealth for the poor.

The Kwale project is an exemplary example of how we have achieved this. It is designed to encourage a step change in thinking amongst the farmers on how they prepare their land, the crop options available to them, and provide an understanding of farming inputs to drive a greater focus on yields and the preparing of soil so they can increase planting density. As a result, farmers have the potential to go from growing sufficient corn to meet their daily food needs to be providing a commercial crop, cotton, to an international market and thus create income earning potential.  For food security purposes, the whole farm is not dedicated to cotton, but it’s encouraged that a field is used and then rotated. This also ensures there is not too much dependence on the cotton for income, and other parts of the land are able to be used for “food to table” cropping.

The partnership with Base Titanium, who are the key supporter of the project, aims to promote stability, economic growth and poverty reduction in Kwale. A sustainable cotton industry will catalyse economic activity and employment opportunities for local people where very little currently exist. The global demand for ethical cotton is growing; this project aims to take 10,000+ farmers (by 2020) from subsistence into long-term sustainable agricultural suppliers to global markets and enable them to exit from extreme poverty.

A cotton cash crop will promote rural livelihoods and generate economic activity through local incomes. Training and extension services by Business for Development will increase agricultural productivity, improve quality, reduce post-harvest losses and make local supply chains more efficient, enabling communities to meet their basic needs, food and nutritional requirements and educate their children. These communities will gain the opportunity to participate in domestic trade through increased incomes and international agricultural trade through the sale of their cotton into Cotton On Group’s global supply chains.

Economic development is a key driver of poverty reduction and is enhanced through communities’ direct participation in economic activities. This project will provide the opportunity for local communities in Kwale to directly participate in economic activity generated through the production and sale of their cotton and to be key actors in their own development through the establishment of community owned business structures, the creation of direct employment opportunities, access to technical support and training and the opportunity to participate in agricultural trade.