Principles of the SBN and BENEFIT- SBN

1.  The SBN is there to stay. Benefit- SBN is a temporary support project and is bound to go. Benefit- SBN does not take up functions of local actors and service providers, but rather it works to strengthen the capacities of the SBN.

2.  The sesame sector is a business sector that can improve performance through stakeholder collaboration, and private-public partnerships.  Benefit- SBN supports exchange and meetings, sharing of information, facilitation of interfaces (for instance farmers and MFI’s) and market linkages.

3.   Sesame sector actors know their activities and business. They can formulate economic objectives and prioritise challenges to address and actions to undertake. This is the point of departure for Benefit- SBN project, which is driven by the agenda of stakeholders. For finding solutions to identified challenges, the support programme has a proactive role.

4.  Improved business performances (of different actor groups) are the driver for stakeholder collaboration, result-oriented action plans and the motivation for voluntary stakeholder participation. Benefit- SBN supports research, extension, training and facilitation services, which are ‘grafted’ and supportive to SBN member activities.

5.  In any business sector there are challenges, such as rural finance, access to quality seeds, branding and market system, that have to be addressed at strategic levels. Benefit- SBN supports addressing key strategic issues in collaboration with the SBN stakeholders at local, regional and national level.

6.   In a vibrant SBN (composed of actors that are there to stay), internal service provision is prominent (local research and extension services, relations between banks and farmers, preferred supplier-buyer relations, …). Benefit- SBN has limited staff who coach local actors and facilitate service provision via local service providers. Different financial instruments are used to co-fund the implementation of priority actions of local actors and service providers.

7.  Development cooperation is rapidly changing: ‘from aid to trade’. Public development funds are increasingly used to promote entrepreneurship, value chain development and business relations. Benefit- SBN will focus on the plans, activities and investments of local entrepreneurs. The public funds of the support project will be grafted to stakeholder action plans. The project considers itself as an investment in the sesame sector and seeks to have a high return of investment, in terms of improved turnover and higher benefits for different stakeholder groups.

8.   There are still many externally funded projects; donor organisations are vocal on synergy and coherence, but often follow their own agenda. Benefit- SBN will strongly focus at harmonisation of approaches and the complementarity of different external funded support programmes, aligned to the priorities of the (public and private) sesame sector stakeholders.

9.   Actors and organisations in developing countries still perceive externally funded projects as sources of relatively easy money, for which efficiency and effectiveness are of less concern. Benefit- SBN applies criteria for co-funding : clear link to identified business development challenges, own contributions (human, physical and financial resources) and performance orientation, e.g. that evidence that SBN co-funding leads to a larger reach and better quality of services.


By Sesame Business Network, Gondar-Ethiopia