Proposal by Busara for Vanilla Value Chain: Reducing Smallholder Supply Risk Through Access to Finance – Tanzania



Vanilla Value Chain: Reducing Smallholder Supply Risk Through Access to Finance – Tanzania

This proposal has been created by Busara Center for Behavioral Economics.


Project name: Vanilla Value Chain: Reducing Smallholder Supply Risk Through Access to Finance – Tanzania

Name of submitting organization: Busara Center for Behavioral Economics

Proposed skill contributions:

    • Legal and Institutional Due Diligence, Risk Analysis/Policy Analysis,
    • Stakeholder Mapping and Stakeholder/Community Consultation
    • Community Capacity Building
    • Environmental Impact Assessment and Mitigation
    • Social Impact Assessment and Mitigation
    • Gender Impact Assessment / Gender Analysis
    • Outgrower Support and Engagement
    • Monitoring and Evaluation
    • Behavioral Economics Research


Who we are

Busara Center for Behavioral Economics (Busara) is an advisory and research organization focused on advancing and applying behavioral science in the Global South. We work with organizations to build behaviorally-informed solutions to help scale their products, programs, and policies. We work to understand the context of decision-making in new markets, with a strong focus in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We operate from our permanent offices in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, and work on projects with partners across the continent. Our mission Busara’s mission is to work with researchers and organizations to advance and apply behavioral science in pursuit of poverty alleviation. Our vision Behavioral science is a highly interdisciplinary field that draws on methods and insights from psychology, anthropology, economics, data science and more.

Our team combines academic rigor with strong private sector experience to build evidence-driven yet pragmatic analyses and solutions. Our 40+ engagement teams are decidedly global to ensure our interventions are leveraging cutting edge behavioral science but also grounded in the context and cultures we work in. Our staff comes to Busara with a diverse set of expertise in health, education, economics, political science, finance, gender, development studies, behavioral science, mathematics, environmental studies, anthropology, and nutrition. Our vision is to build behaviorally-informed solutions to help our partners avoid risks, save money, and drive impact.

We believe in the importance of behavioral science because while people may feel they have clear intentions, their actions do not always reflect these goals. Behavioral science focuses on understanding these inconsistencies and building models that are more reflective of the human experience.

What we do
Behavioral economics, though recently popularized, is still a relatively nascent field. Busara is committed to advancing behavioral science in emerging markets, and focuses on three primary barriers to overcome: data, capacity, systems. Our work always starts with removing assumptions and pre-conceived notions about culture and context to look at the world through a fresh perspective.

We spend a long time listening, learning, designing and discarding potential solutions before we find the ones that may work. Then we test, scale, break, and iterate, again and again until we have it right. Our challenge is that survey data largely focuses on attitudes, preferences, and beliefs, but rarely actions.

New data collection methods and measurement tools are needed. At Busara, we build new data collection tools through incentivized games and vignettes in lab simulations or through embedded tools in ongoing operations:

• Decision labs: Standing, mobile, and embedded labs are available to accommodate projects of all sizes and scope. We currently have deployed labs in 5 countries: Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, India and Tanzania.
• Decision data panels: We use an in-house tool that leverages phone sensors and experience sampling to aggregate behavioral patterns.
• Passive sensing: We utilize mobile phone remote sensing to provide objective, granular data on user digital behaviors to try to understand behavioral trends and patterns.
• Active sensing: Wearable and environmental sensors detect events in a physical location and provide continuous data to support environmental design and provide broader metrics.

We develop software, data panels, and models that can be built into existing systems to enable continuous testing and application of behavioral interventions. We build predictive models that help organizations to both predict when certain behaviors will happen, as well as make decisions to intervene and prescribe solutions when triggered.

Another key service at Busara is that we not only help organizations solve problems, but we also cultivate behavioral expertise within our partners to build a more behaviorally-informed market. We do so through workshops and executive education.

We offer staff training and capacity building to support organizations in developing in-house capacity to maximum comprehension, implementation speed, and data quality. For examples of projects we worked on, please refer to our case studies on our website:


Engagement objectives
The primary aim of this engagement is to decrease smallholder farmers’ supply risk through improved access to finance. This aim breaks down into four main objectives:
1) To understand the needs of smallholder vanilla farmers and their knowledge of financial options. The first objective in this engagement is to conduct a deep dive into the context of the smallholder vanilla farmers, including modelling their decision processes (i.e. their barriers and drivers) when it comes to harvest and financial needs.
2) To understand the ability to adopt financing options. Farmers may have full information and understanding of best practices, but be unable to implement them due to financial constraints and access to savings and credit products. Understanding the conditions for feasibility and the impact of access to finance on crop yields/quality, as well as the barriers smallholder farmers face in using the current offering of financial services will be essential in designing optimal interventions
3) To identify relevant financial services products and delivery partners. This identification will be done through a financial services supply side analysis, guided by the conclusions of the previous behavioral research on smallholder farmers’ needs and perceptions.
4) Pilot relevant financial services and identify opportunities and dependencies to scale financial services.

This engagement will seek to quantify the effectiveness of promising financial services. Busara will seek to meet these engagement objectives through a four-phased approach.

There is a growing body of literature that highlights the deviations of human behavior from rationality, especially when it comes to adoption and sustained usage of new technologies and practices.

The interplay of behavioral biases and heuristics, and environmental and structural factors, such as access to finance, markets, and logistics, can give us novel insights into the problems adoption and ownership of new technologies. Busara adopts this integrated approach of behavioral economics and human centered design to help identify effective ways of promoting sustainable ownership of interventions aimed at increasing productivity in the vanilla value chain.

In the following subsections, we describe the four stakes we propose to inform an effective and evidence-based strategy for increasing productivity among vanilla farmers. In summary, these are:

1) Initial qualitative research with vanilla farmers to build contextual understanding.
2) Large sample quantitative research with vanilla farmers to quantify this understanding, and to build segments based on needs and required trainings.
3) Designing interventions for each segment, focused on the capacity building support provided by NEI.
4) Lab in the field testing of interventions to provide an evaluation of their effectiveness and recommendations for scaling up.


Activity 1: Phase 1: Foundational Qualitative Research
Description: Busara will design and run a foundational qualitative study to more deeply understand the nuances of everyday life among the target population – i.e. what they care about, what they are motivated by, what their aspirations are, who they are influenced by, and what discourages them from seeking out interventions such as useful financing services – and the context in which they make farming decisions.

Through focus groups organized with smallholder farmers, we will get a better understanding of knowledge, motive, usage, and attitude toward available financial products:

1) Understand the perception/ knowledge smallholder farmers have of financial products and services available in Tanzania
2) Understand how limited access to financial services may be impacting crop yields and quality
3) Understand the factors that enable or impede the uptake of financial products for smallholder farmers

Using a qualitative lens means we will be better able to assess how farmers’ articulated preferences and values (acceptability) align with observed practices and behaviors (uptake). This evidence will ultimately inform the design of the quantitative study.

The design of the qualitative study will be informed by an initial literature review, which will synthesize the behavioral and structural problems facing the uptake of financial services for smallholder farmers, as well as global best practices that have been adopted to overcome barriers and drive demand for this kind of intervention.

Phase 1 deliverables:
• Report with findings from literature review
• Qualitative research and high level-environmental scan.
• Barrier map with prioritization themes to prepare phase 2

Duration: 2 – <4 weeks
Deliverable: Report

Activity 2: Phase 2: Quantitative Research with Farmers
Description: Busara will conduct a small quantitative survey that will look to quantify frequency of usage of certain financial services and frequency of certain behaviors arising from the Phase 1 research.
Variables of interest here include but are not limited to demographic variables (i.e. age, education, income, location), behaviors (i.e. awareness and usage of financial services) and environmental factors (stakeholders and decision-makers, openness to communication, information asymmetry, social norms, social preferences/trust).

Having this breadth of data will allow us to have a richer understanding of the user profiles across all geographic areas.

Phase 2 deliverables: Quantitative findings report

Duration: 2 – <4 weeks
Deliverables: Report

Activity 3: Phase 3: Supply Side Analysis and Rapid Prototyping
Description: Having built and understood farmer segments in phase 2, Busara will look at the supply side by conducting a follow-up qualitative research with service providers, such as banks, telecommunication service providers, and anyone who makes loans or does savings for vanilla farmers in Tanzania.

These key informants interviews will help identify potential financial service partners for NEI’s smallholder farmers based on the conclusions drawn in phases 1 and 2 and on relevant, accessible, and affordable financial services. Some of the key questions we will tackle through this research with the supply side are:
• Perceptions of the risk associated with smallholder farmers by these institutions
• what are the reasons for why they might not loan to farmers?
• What are the loan requirements/collateral/offtaking contracts?
• Do these financial service providers care about insurance or other structural risk mitigation?
• What are the outreach plans for various FSPs?
• What might FSPs be doing to limit uptake of SHFs? (bad incentives structure, untargeted and inconsistent marketing strategies, etc.)

Busara proposes to develop specific interventions (relevant financial services) through a collaborative design workshop with NEI, bringing together Busara’s behavioral knowledge and phase 1&2 research, and NEI’s deep contextual and technical expertise.
• Qualitative research on the supply side presentation.
• Design workshop.
• Final, prototyped interventions for testing

Duration: 4 weeks – <3 months
Deliverables: Presentation, Workshop or meeting

Activity 4: Phase 4: Initial Testing and Recommendations for Scale-up
Description: In the final work stream, we will do an initial testing of the interventions developed in phase 3 in order to provide evidence of their effectiveness prior to rolling out.

Testing is crucial to ensuring any intervention has been validated with the target audience. Busara can offer several ways of testing interventions based on the promising financial services identified, such as lab in the field or live testing with FSPs. The goal will be to rapidly identify low-cost yet high-impact interventions that overcome behavioral and/or structural barriers, driving an increased access to relevant financial services for smallholder farmers.

Based on the results from the testing, and with input from NEI, Busara will identify opportunities and dependencies to scale financial services throughout NEI’s supply chain. All findings will be shared in a final report, which will highlight implementation strategies to scale recommended financial services.

Phase 4 deliverables:
• Pre-analysis plan to measure outcomes of interest from the testing phase
• Final Report with recommendations report with strategy for scaling interventions

Duration: 3 – <6 months
Deliverables: Report, Presentation

Project measureables:
We design a very customized approach to monitoring, evaluation and reporting for each of our project. We therefore use different tools along the process based on the activities undertaken. Please see below suggested monitoring and evaluation tools we envision for each phase of the project, but we are very open to change or add elements of our approach.

Phase 1: During the qualitative phase, we will conduct focus groups with smallholder farmers. We will monitor and report on the number of focus groups and composition of these focus groups (number of participants, profile of participants, diversity etc.), and evaluate the quality of coordination of these groups through audio recording and checks on transcripts.

Phase 2: During the quantitative phase, we will monitor survey progress through the number of interviews completed. We will ensure quality of the interviews using several data collected through the tablets used for the interviews and check key variables at the level of interviewers. Progress can be reported on a weekly basis.

Phase 3: During the supply side qualitative research, we will conduct key informant interviews. We will monitor the number of interviews conducted, and use audio recordings and transcripts to evaluate the quality of interviews. During the co-design phase, the main new aspect to monitor is the number of interventions we will be designing and which will be approved by NEI.

Phase 4: During the testing phase, our monitoring and evaluation tools will depend on the testing methods we will conduct. We will make suggestions along the testing plan in phase 3.

Finally, an output of the project will be this landscape analysis with barrier/levers of contextual factors mediating farmers’ awareness, access, and uptake of financial services. This will be helpful tools to continue monitoring the success of the adopted interventions beyond the scope of the project.

Methods of data collection: Interviews, Focus Group Discussions, Technology, Desk review

Risks in project: During the project cycle we shall use the following project management process to identify and manage risks in the proposed project.
• Communicate and consult with partners throughout the project.
• Establish the context for project risk management e.g. policies, roles – Identify risks events and their causes
• Analyze risks – i.e. consequence and likelihood of each risk event.
• Evaluate risks – prioritization of risk events for management. – Treat risks – i.e. implementation of strategies to manage risk events
• Monitor and review the effectiveness of the project risk management process.

Risk management strategies:
Some of the risks anticipated and how to manage them:

1) Research Achievability & Integrity:
• Research has low chance of achieving research outcomes
Mitigation strategy: Proposed research has been carefully designed to meet its objectives.

• Misconduct or fraudulent behavior
Mitigation strategy: The project staff are highly trained and professional. Staff are reminded to sign NDA for every project they handle

• Researchers make unjustified claims not supported by data.
Mitigation strategy: Staff have undergone Ethics training and trained on data and research misconduct.

2) Research Methods & Process
• Research undertaken without approval of the research design
Mitigation Strategy: All study protocols and designs are submitted to ethics review committee which approve the study

• Research methods outside of approved research design
Mitigation Strategy: All changes are submitted to Ethics review committees for approval before study continuation

• Data is not secured, lost or unverified
Mitigation Strategy: Staff have undergone data
training and back process has been in place to retrieve all data that may get lost. All devices, laptops and servers are password protected and only accessed by authorised senior staff.

• Research methods are not adequately documented
Mitigation Strategy: Ethics Review Board do monitoring visits and Research Compliance Officer has been mandated to be in charge of project documentation.

3) Ethics
• Physical or psychological harm to research subjects
Mitigation Strategy: These are reported as social harms to the Institutional Review Board

• Conflict of interests are undeclared
Mitigation Strategy: Staff have undergone Conflict of interest online course and sign forms for future reference

• Researchers fail to obtain consent.
Mitigation Strategy: Staff on the project will be trained and importance of consenting process and auditing process will be done for verification that all study participants were consented.

• Researched sample is disadvantaged by the research
Mitigation Strategy: All adverse events during study implementation is reported to Ethics board

• Research methods are not adequately documented
Mitigation Strategy: Dedicated staff members will be mandated to be in charge of project documentation and reporting.

• Research sample change their behaviors as they know they are being researched
Mitigation Strategy: All adverse events during study implementation is reported to Ethics board.


Relevant past experience:
Busara has both extensive experience applying behavioral economics to the agricultural field in Tanzania and using behavioral insights for designing customized learning tools. Please see below a few examples of relevant past projects:

1) Mercy Corps AFA, a mastercard funded program that sought to offer financial and technical support to innovative organisations that created and were implementing cutting edge products and service at the intersection of agriculture and finance. AFA engaged Busara as their primary learning partner for 2 years to work directly with their partners while also producing learning outputs that ultimately would be shared with other players in the ecosystem. Engagements varied from running data analytics to inform strategic recommendations, executing qualitative exercises to tease out behavioral elements that could fit into to capturing learnings and supporting the development of learning agenda during their yearly learning partner events.

2) Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) / Precision Agriculture Development (PAD): PAD partnered with Busara in Ethiopia in order to conduct a two part diagnostic study consisting of:
i) international benchmarking of the ATA 8028 hotline to generate actionable insights to aid expansion;
ii) In-depth interviews and focus group discussions with farmers to identify additional services to be developed on the ATA System.
Similar to this project, Busara led both qualitative and quantitative surveys with smallholder farmers around the country and could extract meaningful conclusions and recommendations thanks to the integration of behavioral insights.

3) Financial Sector Deepening Trust in Tanzania: Busara was tasked to analyze and make recommendations on designing a target operating model to drive digital financial inclusion at scale in several value systems: maize, transportation and storage and wholesale & retail.To do this, Busara conducted:
i) a literature review and key expert interviews aimed at understanding the context of each value system
ii) a qualitative deep dive into these value chains to understand the lives of the primary actors in each and
iii) a quantitative deep dive to identify the prevalence of different behaviors and opportunities.

Together, this stage details the lives, needs, barriers and connections of the primary actors in each value system. We also have a strong experience in developing and conducting trainings, here are a few examples of past projects for your references that we can further discuss:
1) Trained MFI leadership, managers, and agents on improved service provision and customer outreach with ICCO in Ethiopia.
2) Trained both government veterinarian and commercial sales agents on the best ways to communicate the benefit of improved breed chickens in Ethiopia with EthioChicken, with Acumen, funded by Gates Foundation
Trained sales agents on methods to improve uptake of financial services in rural Tanzania with Access Bank Tanzania in 2018.

Key staff experience:
Our core team for this project is composed of one Project Lead, 2 Associates with various expertise needed for the project and one Consortium Coordinator.

The team speaks both English and Swahili, has strong experience conducting both qualitative and quantitative research and has extensive expertise in the local context:

Nathanial Peterson, VP Partnerships, will be the Team Leader for the project. He has extensive experience leading projects in the agriculture sector. His primary interest is in how people perceive and manage risk, so he is especially drawn to projects involving insurance uptake and credit for farm and business investment.

His current portfolio includes behavioral and psychometric segmentation to promote financial inclusion, understanding how SMEs can overcome behavioral supply chain issues, and communicating improved agricultural practices. He has also led several projects developing and conducting trainings for various types of public and in various contexts in Tanzania and abroad.

Salim Kombo, Research Associate, joined Busara in 2017 and has worked on various research projects applying Behavioral Economics in the energy, agriculture, environmental conservation, and governance fields. Salim will bring his extensive experience in experimental design, qualitative and quantitative survey design, alternative data collection tools and data analysis. A recent project he worked on was for Financial System Deepening Trust about ecosystem design and development approach research for financial inclusion in the maize transportation & storage and wholesale & retail value systems in Tanzania.

Rosa Tesfay, Associate, has worked for Busara since 2016. Prior to joining Busara, she worked at the International Trade Center, Geneva, conducting assessments on Aid for Trade initiatives and developing project ideas to enable SMEs to participate in and benefit from global value chains, and supported in managing projects in Tanzania and Lesotho. Prior to her studies, she led community development, women empowerment, SMEs’ capacity building and entrepreneurial skill development projects in Ethiopia. Since working at Busara, she has led several projects in the agricultural sector, working on behavioral insights from smallholder farmers. She currently leads the designing and testing of market linkages and technical support systems for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, and leads a project with an overall aim of identifying support systems for farmers via input linkage, technical support and market linkage services for smallholder farmers in Kenya.

Gladys Muange, Consortium Coordinator, joined Busara in 2013 as a Field Officer and has risen through the ranks of Senior Field Officer to Project Lead and currently Senior Project Lead as from November 2016. She has led several advisory studies on Humanitarian, Health Behaviors, Financial Inclusion and Agriculture. She has strong experience in managing large-scale field and lab-based research.

Ann Wanjiku, Senior Research Analyst, has worked at Busara on a wide range of research projects, especially in Tanzania, since she joined the team in 2016. She recently worked on a project for CGAP and TIRA where she developed research tools, led data collection and analyzed qualitative data. She is an expert in all the research tools presented in this proposal, especially in the Tanzanian context.


Currency Selection: USD

Upper fee limit: $49,449

Language requirements:

Payment structure: Milestone/deliverable based

Reporting processes: We can customize our monitoring and evaluation tools to the needs of the project. Based on further discussions on the details of the projects, we can offer further monitoring and evaluation tools and adjust the reporting frequency to the need of NEI.

Desired frequency of reporting: Monthly

Interest in follow on work: Yes. Busara is interested in post-project monitoring and evaluation of longer-term outcomes of the project.


1. Nathanial Peterson CV

Workplan and budget
1. Workplan

2. Budget