Research Workshop: Private investor knowledge management rolodex to scale CGIAR innovations

  • Date
  • Time
    08:00 am > 11:30 am UTC+03:00
  • Location
    United Nations, Conference Room 9, Nairobi, Kenya

Thematic Areas: Scaling Innovations

Systematic adoption and scaling (both across time and space) of CGIAR science-based innovations (such as improved seed varieties or smart management of a specific cropping system) are significant to the success of CGIAR.  Farmer groups and small/medium sized businesses (in the form of cooperatives, SMEs/MSMEs etc.) are key “scaling agents” of CGIAR innovations. 

Engagements with private investors has taught us that there is appetite to invest, and to generate impact at large scales. This in fact has been duly recognized within the CGIAR portfolio and has therefore manifested as business support/acceleration programs, that are implemented by CGIAR centres and programs. 

On the one hand while we see that there is a need for a pre-screened, optimally sized investable pipeline of farmer groups and small/medium sized businesses, on the other hand we are not able to address this specific need of private investors. This is despite us implementing business support/acceleration programs across the global south.  

One of the reasons for this is that the pre-screening process of the business support/acceleration programs is not harmonized, and therefore is not collated in a re-usable repository. This therefore limits us from scaling innovations by leveraging the impact focused capital available from private investors. 

There is an opportunity to create a CGIAR science and innovation driven knowledge management “rolodex” system that can harmonize, facilitate interoperability of pre-screening processes across business support/acceleration programs, store and enable access of the pre-screened pipeline of farmer groups and small/medium sized businesses to the investing community. 

The first step towards the development of the rolodex system is to systematically leverage CGIAR expertise to build a science-based impact focused taxonomy. The taxonomy will enable a harmonized pre-screening approach and structured access to the same, thereby unlocking impact capital from private investors into agriculture and food systems across the global south.  

Our initial learnings in this process indicates that the impact appetite of private investors, demands for social and environmental risk reduction, impact generation resulting in improved financial returns

There is an urgent need to pool and learn from CGIAR wide expertise to construct the taxonomy by just not understanding what needs to be collected (there are numerous taxonomies that list what needs to be collected), but how can CGIAR science quantify this, what data is needed, and how should this be collected, all in a scalable manner. 

All of this has the potential to address the need for social and environmental risk reduction, impact generation contributing to improved financial returns, thereby rendering CGIAR innovations scalable, through a pipeline of farmer groups and small/medium sized businesses.

The session will consist of a simple brief and lessons learnt from the private investing community, followed by “crowdsourced” activity, wherein we will learn from the knowledge of CGIAR experts to develop the science-based impact focused taxonomy. The eventual goal is to publish the taxonomy, so that all business support/acceleration programs could use this in their processes.

CGIAR experts have worked tirelessly and have been successful in making a case for investments into improving the sustainability of agriculture and food systems in the global south. This has led to additional capital being available to scale CGIAR innovations through farmer groups and small/medium sized businesses. The next frontier is to channel this capital into an optimally sized, pre-screened investable pipeline, to maximize the impact of our innovations. The proposed rolodex system is designed to help minimize this gap and thereby amplify CGIAR impact.


  • Nathaniel Peterson
  • Dharani Dhar Burra
  • Wendy Francesconi (online)