A look at the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of business development services for agricultural enterprises in Africa

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Apr 05, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM GMT+2


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.


Francisco “Frank” Rubio, Interim Senior Coordinator of SAFIN and Senior Technical Advisor for ABC Fund, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)- Moderator

Frank is a development expert with 25 years of experience in agricultural finance, microfinance, technical assistance, training, and project management. He currently provides technical support to the ABC Fund and leadership in the growth of IFAD’s private sector portfolio. He recently took on the role of interim Senior Coordinator of SAFIN. Before this, he held progressively senior positions at the Inter-American Development Bank, Catholic Relief Services, CARE USA, and Oikocredit.