About the event

Agri-SMEs play a crucial role in the economic development and advancement of emerging markets. Despite their significance, agri-SMEs still encounter formidable challenges in achieving key growth objectives, such as generating revenue and creating employment opportunities. Although Business Development Services (BDS) are integral in supporting agri-SMEs to grow and thrive, the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of such programs remain poorly understood. To address this, ISF Advisors, in coordination with the SAFIN Network, Argidius Foundation, Small Foundation, AGRA, AMEA Network, and Agriterra, have published a new study that aims to identify and evaluate the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of BDS tools and methodologies in East and West Africa. On that note, this session will provide a brief overview of the study’s main conclusions and aims to spur discussion around its implications for the future of BDS delivery in Africa.



Hayden Aldredge, Manager, ISF Advisors

Hayden is a Manager at ISF, based in New York. He is responsible for landscaping, research, analysis, and project support. Prior to joining ISF, Hayden was a strategy consultant at L.E.K. Consulting in Boston and New York. He advised clients on more than 30 projects across a range of industries, including engagements in the industrials, agrichemical, healthcare, and consumer sectors. He has also worked for Deutsche Bank Securities and Plan International Tanzania.

Hileena Eshetu, Ethiopia Regional Network Facilitator, Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance (AMEA)

Hileena helps to build strong partnerships for systems change to accelerate the professionalization of farmer organizations. She works closely with other Local Networks and Working Groups to develop initiatives and share learning to further AMEA’s mission. She is also a Knowledge Sharing and Network Building Specialist with IFC’s Smallholder Supply Chains platform. Previously, Hileena led the Communications team at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), and was responsible for promoting the organization’s key successes. Hileena holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stanford University in the USA.

Gerard Wynne, Investment Executive, Small Foundation

Gerard supports Small Foundation’s social investment strategy through in-depth partnerships with intermediaries, investors and entrepreneurs in Africa and globally. Gerard has spent his career working with SMEs across African, Asian-Pacific and European markets across a multitude of sectors within deal advisory, leveraged finance and early staged investing roles. Gerard holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Kemmy Business School at University of Limerick and a Master’s degree in Accounting at UCD Smurfit Business School.

Matthew Newman, Senior Associate, ISF Advisors

Matthew is a Senior Associate at ISF, based in Chicago. He is responsible for providing critical support to the investment team including conducting targeted analysis, modelling, and drafting key documents. Prior to joining ISF, Matthew was a Vice President at Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) in Singapore where he was responsible for overseeing the firm’s transaction advisory business. At IIX, he successfully managed over 15 impact-focused transactions in several industries across South and Southeast Asia. He has also worked as an Associate at Inveniam Group in Barcelona, Spain.

Michael von During, Technical Specialist of SAFIN, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)- Moderator

Michael von During is the Technical Specialist for the Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN) housed at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, Italy. Prior to joining SAFIN, Michael developed a career at the intersection of impact investing and agriculture. He began in the field of microfinance investment with Symbiotics, where managed the portfolio for Central America. He then joined AlphaMundi to launch their operations in financing sustainable agriculture around the world. This was followed by a stint at Cargill to work on the design of credit assessment solutions for the company’s global commodities trading operations, before returning to social investment to work on structuring blended finance.


Event Details:

Event dates: Apr 05 2023, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Location: Online

Organizer: SAFIN | ISF Advisors



Quote: "Standardizing BDS approaches is important to achieving scale and sharing learnings, but it is important to maintain the context specificity that makes these services well targeted to the needs of agricultural SMEs in Africa," Hileena Eshetu, Ethiopia Regional Network Facilitator, AMEA

Summary article:

During this session, over 250 agri-finance practitioners attended the event and shared their reactions to the findings of the study. Some of the key topics discussed during the session include:

  • Provider perspective: Local contexts and global dynamics matter
  • Funder perspective: Strategic provider selection and the role of robust data
  • Defining business development services and segmenting agricultural SMEs
  • The relationship between cost and impact in the sector

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Session videos: