Co-developing the SCOPE Input Retailer to professionalize input suppliers around the world

You might have experienced that input suppliers who supply manufactured inputs used for agriculture production often lack formal education, have limited product knowledge, accounting- or sales skills and limited advisory and training skills. You might have experienced that input retailers have difficulty accessing finance. Or maybe that this lack of professionalism results in increased costs for companies who manufacture inputs.

Driven by the desire to change this, SCOPEinsight teamed up with IFC, CNFA and Bayer to develop a new assessment tool, the SCOPE Input Retailer. A tool that measures the level of professionalism of input suppliers who supply inputs to farmers. At SCOPEinsight we have a lot of experience developing assessment tools and related products and services, but the knowledge and expertise of co-developers are crucial to make it a success.

The 5 step co-development process where knowledge and expertise of different parties was joined

The development of the SCOPE Input Retailer:

Developing a tool is about making sure the right type of information is included, but also about understanding the local context in which an assessment takes place. With their support and from third parties, a prototype was piloted in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Honduras. Our assessment tools are applicable in any region, crop or sector. Testing the tool in different global regions and with different parties gives a lot of insights about the different contexts in which the tool will be applied. Furthermore it helps to introduce a common language and to create a basis for the use of the tool. And, very important, co-development also results in better alignment between the assessment tool and training and coaching as the follow up of the assessment results.

Being responsible for product development, SCOPEinsight joined the co-developers in conducting the pilots to review the whole process. In Indonesia, IFC and an agro-input company had started setting up an Academy for small retailers in May of 2017, teaching them small business management skills. The project worked with a specialized survey firm, BOI Research Services, to conduct the assessments for 38 retailers divided over four towns in East Java.

In any new product development, there were some challenges to overcome. During our field visits, one challenge was to get the assessments done on time, as we were traveling between many remote areas. The assessments were mostly done in or nearby the retailer’s shop, which meant the process of conducting the assessment was sometimes interrupted, because the shop owner needed to help customers or take care of his children.

Another challenge in nearly all pilots was that the retailers were sometimes hesitant to disclose financial information. For this reason it is very important that the assessor explains the purpose of the assessment well, as we also experienced with our other assessment tools.

The experiences and feedback of the co-developers and assessors were critical in the finalization of the tool. It is important to have a good understanding of the challenges the assessor and the input suppliers face. During the analysis of the assessment results and feedback from the field it also became obvious that some questions were not clear enough, were repetitive or particular information was missing. Adjustments were made in the final stages of the tool to reflect learnings.

Picture: Topan, one of BOI Research Services’ assessors, interviewing an input suppliers during the pilot in Indonesia. Picture by Laura Roverts.

Managing this project has given me a lot of insights. I am very happy about the collaboration with IFC, CNFA and Bayer and I learned a lot from the BOI team while joining them in conducting assessments of a couple of retailers. We are very happy with the end result and are excited to see the tool being used in the field to help professionalize input retailers at a global level.

Curious to learn more about the SCOPE Input Retailer? Contact us!

The SCOPE Input Retailer fits well into our family of tools as it focuses on the level of professionalism in agriculture and can be one global standard for the professionalism of input retailers for different agricultural sectors. The tool can be applied to sole proprietorship and micro-enterprises. A field visit takes around 4 hours and the assessment includes a questionnaire consisting of 50 questions, background information and a documentation checklist. The results of this assessment provide insights into the needs and opportunities of input suppliers and focus on access to finance and access to markets.

The tool is now ready to be used in English, French and Spanish. The SCOPE App makes it easy and efficient for assessors to complete an assessment, even without internet access in the field.

Curious to know more and find out how your organization can benefit from this new tool? Please get in touch with us and we can set up a demo for you!