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Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on agrifood manufacturing small and medium enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa

Recommendations for building back better










Oman, S., Kongongo, F., Kelly, S., Ilie, E. 2021. Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on agrifood manufacturing small and medium enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa – Recommendations for building back better. Rome, FAO and Vienna, UNIDO.




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    Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute the large majority of businesses both globally and in Asia and the Pacific. Despite their undeniable importance, the literature on SMEs in general, and agrifood SMEs in particular, is relatively limited. One specific area that deserves deeper consideration is the extent of digital engagement of agrifood SMEs along the agrifood value chain, from farm to retail and food services, in countries in Asia and the Pacific. The goal of this publication is to understand the current status of digitalization of agri-SMEs in Asia and the Pacific, what this process looks like and how to improve it. A value-chain approach was adopted to evaluate the digital maturity of all types of agri-SMEs across previously siloed categories – from farm to fork, and in the core and the extended value chain. The report analyses the benefits of digital transformation for agri-SMEs and the challenges they face in this process. Next, the report outlines practical and actionable measures that governments and other stakeholders may undertake to help agrifood SMEs stay ahead in the digital age. Special attention is given to the creation of a digital environment that enables agri-SMEs to increase the efficiency of their operations and allow them to grow. This is particularly important given that many agri-SMEs are located in rural agricultural areas, (where more than half of the population in Asia and the Pacific still resides), but where the environment is less favourable to digital transformation.
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    This report presents the findings of an analysis of the business profiling information and capacity gaps of agrifood small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and enterprise support organizations (ESOs) across Ethiopia, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Papua New Guinea and South Sudan. This activity was carried out as part of a project under the Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM), currently known as Flexible Voluntary Contribution (FVC).The data collected and the analysis provide valuable insights to policy makers and practitioners into the capacity and learning gaps to be addressed and of the challenges that SMEs and ESOs face in the targeted countries.  The results showed that most of these enterprises are micro-enterprises, almost half are managed by women, and they develop a diversified portfolio of activities including production, processing, and retailing mostly in grains value chains. Most agrifood SMEs mentioned the following as their primary business challenges: limited access tofinance, input costs and infrastructure development.
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    Business profiling and nutrition assessment of agrifood small and medium-sized enterprises in Ethiopia, Malawi and Mali
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    This report presents the findings of an analysis of the business profiling information and capacity gaps of agrifood small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and enterprise support organizations (ESOs) across Ethiopia, Malawi and Mali. The data collected and the analysis provide valuable insights to policymakers and practitioners on the capacity and learning gaps to be addressed and on the challenges that SMEs and ESOs face in the targeted countries.  The results showed that most of these enterprises are micro-enterprises, almost half are managed by women, and they develop a diversified portfolio of activities including production, processing, and retailing mostly in grain value chains. Most agrifood SMEs mentioned the following as their primary business challenges: limited access to finance, input costs and infrastructure development.

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