The Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT), a sister fund of BEST-Dialogue Tanzania, has been established as a long-term facility to address challenges experienced in past market development initiatives in Tanzania. Established by the Governments of Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland, the Trust works towards strengthening market systems for business associations within the agricultural sector, with special focus on making markets work for the poor.
As part of efforts to enhance the advocacy capacity of business associations, and to promote constructive public-private sector dialogue in Tanzania, AMDT’s Advocacy Specialist, Ms. Tertula Swai paid a one-week learning visit to Ghana to study the BUSAC Fund’s approach towards supporting private sector business advocacy initiatives in Ghana. Within the period, Ms. Swai interacted with seven Private Sector Organizations (PSOs) who have implemented advocacy actions within the agricultural sector with the support of the BUSAC Fund. These PSOs include the Northern Region Cooperative Vegetable Farmers and Marketing Union, Zocoffams Cooperative (based in the Northern region), Tikarinongo Cooperative Farming and Marketing Union (based in the Upper East) and the Ghana Grains Council based in Accra.
The learning visit, which lasted from 22nd July to 26th July 2019, gave Ms. Swai the opportunity to learn how BUSAC Fund enhances the advocacy capacities of business associations and promotes public-private sector dialogue.
The visit also gave Ms. Swai the opportunity to learn about the BUSAC Fund’s processes and to study the organizational structure of business associations in Ghana, taking note of the financial sustainability mechanisms built into the management of these groups.
Major Challenges faced by AMDT
Ms. Tertula Swai mentioned some of the key challenges AMDT faces in the course of promoting public-private sector dialogue to address challenges within Tanzania’s business environment. Notable among these challenges is the difficulty involved in securing the cooperation of public sector officials in the dialogue process. Many public officials in Tanzania believe they already understand the needs of the private sector, and therefore do not need to be sensitized on the importance of dialogue with the private sector.
The Advocacy Specialist also pointed out that many business associations are unable to generate good evidence to support their advocacy actions, because they cannot afford to hire the services of research consultants, who are generally expensive in Tanzania. AMDT is therefore exploring ways of making research more affordable for business associations in Tanzania.
As in Ghana, many business associations in Tanzania also lack financial self-sufficiency, and are therefore dependent on funding from donor agencies to finance their advocacy initiatives. This situation adversely affects the sustainability of private sector-led business advocacy in Tanzania.
Key lessons learnt.
In the course of her learning visit, Ms. Swai picked up a number of important lessons about the BUSAC Fund’s approach towards supporting private sector business advocacy. She therefore expressed the hope that these lessons will help AMDT to benchmark their interventions against the BUSAC Fund’s operations.
Ms. Swai observed with interest that the BUSAC Fund actively promotes public-private sector dialogue by enhancing the capacities of both parties to participate in the dialogue process. Thus, to facilitate a successful private-public sector dialogue, the Fund trains the PSO on why and how to advocate, while also organizing sensitization workshops for the public sector to impress upon them the importance and benefits of cooperating with the private sector.
While interacting with the grantees, Ms. Swai promptly observed that beyond helping to address challenges within the business environment, public-private sector dialogue also strengthens the relationship between the two sectors, thus paving the way for further dialogue on many other issues within the business environment.
When it comes to building the advocacy capacity of PSOs, Ms. Swai was particularly impressed to learn that representatives of the PSO trained are made up of a mixture of both the leadership and members of the association, thus ensuring that the advocacy skills acquired is retained in the group even when leadership changes. She also observed that the BUSAC Fund organizes financial management training for PSOs to enhance their ability to manage their grants and their
Ms. Swai also observed that the BUSAC Fund attaches significant importance to evidence generation in the entire advocacy process, believing that PSOs need strong empirical evidence to persuade duty bearers to effect changes in the business environment. She noted that apart from funding the total cost of the research action, the BUSAC Fund also encourages PSOs to actively participate in the research work together with the researcher, and ensure that the findings of the research buttresses the stance of their advocacy action.
“I was actually impressed with one group in the Upper East region (Zanlerigu Langube Development Association), whose members told me how they participated in the research exercise by administering questionnaires to respondents in the local community. In a way, this approach also builds the research capacity of the grantees involved”, Ms Swai remarked.
She also observed that BUSAC Fund’s grantees are encouraged to avoid having the findings of their research work conflict with major government policies, in order to enhance their changes of successful dialogue.
Ms. Swai mentioned that AMDT is looking forward to strengthening the evidence generation capacity of BMOs in Tanzania, while also finding ways of making research affordable for BMOs in Tanzania.
Ms. Swai also observed that media campaigns form an integral part of the advocacy actions implemented by BUSAC Fund’s grantees. She noted that PSOs discuss their advocacy issues in the media to put gentle pressure on duty bearers, while also galvanizing public support for their advocacy actions.
AMDT Benchmarking with the BUSAC Fund
One other key lesson picked up by Ms. Swai was that the BUSAC Fund had built mechanisms into BUSAC Fund’s grantee selection process to minimize the risk of grant failure. She learnt that prior to the award of an advocacy grant, the BUSAC Fund Secretariat conducts due diligence on the applicant to verify their technical and managerial capacity to implement the advocacy action and also manage the grant. The findings of this due diligence exercise then enables the Fund to measure the risk involved in awarding a grant to a particular PSO, thereby making an appropriate decision. The Fund therefore shared the Due Diligence and financial risk assessment tools with Ms. Swai for inspiration.
Ms. Swai also learnt that in order to empower women in society to enhance their leadership and organizational capacities, the BUSAC Fund had integrated modules on women empowerment into the basic advocacy training course for PSOs. The Fund shared these modules with Ms. Swai for inspiration.
Overall, Ms. Swai expressed her gratitude to the BUSAC Fund team for the learning opportunities, adding that some of the lessons she learnt will be adopted by AMDT in their quest to build the capacity of BMOs for advocacy and dialogue in Tanzania. She therefore promised to share with the AMDT team the lessons learnt, tools and experience gathered from the BUSAC Fund team.
Story: Ebenezer Kpentey, BUSAC Fund