SCOPEinsight assessments: a tool towards the professionalization of farmer organisations

SCOPEinsight assessments: a tool towards the professionalization of farmer organisations

in News

On 4 October 2016, VECO Vietnam welcomed colleagues from VECO Indonesia for a regional learning and reflection workshop on SCOPEinsight assessment tools. The tools, aimed at assessing and monitoring farmer organisations’ capacity and performance, have been used by all VECO offices across the network with the aim of enhancing the professionalism of partner farmer organisations.

What is SCOPEinsight?

In early 2016, VECO International started using two tools developed by the independent assessment company SCOPEinsight in order to assess the business and operational capacity of its partner farmer organisations. With a view to helping farmer organisations become well-organised and reliable business organisation, one of VECO’s core activities is to strengthen their capacity. By enhancing their level of professionalism and investment-readiness, farmer organisations can improve their relationship with banks and private actors and have better access to business opportunities. After many years of experience in the field, VECO wanted to adopt a more professional and streamlined approach to farmer organisations’ screening and monitoring which is why VECO embarked on a partnership with SCOPEinsight to apply SCOPEinsight’s tool across the whole VECO network.

SCOPEinsight’s “Basic” and “Pro” tools offer a standardized methodology to assess, provide support, and monitor the progress of farmer organisations. By highlighting the strengths and weakness of these organisations, the tools can be used to establish a baseline of their performance and to track their progress overtime. More importantly, it helps VECOs across the network improve and tailor their training curriculum to better meet farmer organisations’ needs. The assessment can also benefit the farmer organisations’ potential business and financial partners by providing objective information on the state of their capacity. The SCOPE Basic assessment covers eight categories, namely internal management, operations, financial management, supply, marketing, external risks, enablers, and sustainability. The SCOPE Pro tool puts additional emphasis on financial performance.

So far, VECO Vietnam has already assessed four partner farmer organisations using the Basic tool in Ha Nam and Phu Tho provinces. In Indonesia, 14 assessments have already been carried out, 11 using the Basic tool and 3 with the Pro tool.

Exchanging experience and looking into the future

The objectives of this regional workshop were threefold. First, it aimed to bring together colleagues to reflect on the best way to make use of SCOPE Insight assessments for the benefit of farmer organisations. Second, it allowed the two regional offices to look back at their experience and to draft a series of recommendations to improve the tools in the future. Third, it aimed to enable colleagues to discuss the technical difficulties met during the assessments and to devise measures to overcome them in the future.

Participants in the workshop included representatives of VECO Vietnam and VECO Indonesia, and members of the assessed Vietnamese farmer organisations who shared their experience with the Basic tool. As Mr. Thuong, the director of the Tan Duc Safe Vegetables Cooperative explained: “The assessment helped us understand what the cooperative has been doing well and what we failed to do correctly. It helped me realise what the organisation is currently lacking in order to become stronger. Following the assessment, we will make some changes to improve ourselves”. Thanks to the assessments, farmer organisations have a better awareness of who they are, their strengths and weaknesses and the capacities that need to be strengthened. This can in turn improve their management decisions in order to become more professional.

The workshop resulted in a series of recommendations for the improvement of the tools and helped colleagues address some of the issues met during the implementation.

Building trust seminar

On 8 and 9 December 2016, VECO International will host the “Building Trust” Seminar in Belgium, a unique opportunity to connect farmer organisations, private sector actors, and financial institutions and to learn about VECO’s experience with SCOPEinsight. The first day of the seminar will be fully dedicated to farmers and will provide space to exchange learning and insights from SCOPEinsight’s assessments. During the event, farmers from across the world will present their experience from the assessment. The second day of the programme will focus on connecting farmers with investors and food professionals in the heart of Europe, and on exchanging finance and business experiences with smallholders. VECO Vietnam will be represented along with a representative of one of its partner organisations.

More information on the agenda of the Building Trust seminar can be found on VECO International’s website.

Below you can watch a video produced by VECO Indonesia in which farmer organisations share testimonies about their experience with SCOPEinsight assessments.