Friday, November 17, 2017

New project: Organisational Structures for SMAllholder REsilience (OSMARE)

Together with Todd Rosenstock (ICRAF), Sera Gondwe (LUANAR), Golden Mahove (Vuna) and Wageningen University colleagues Prof. Jacques Trienekens, Dr. Valentina Materia and Dr. Thomas Lans, we received funding from the Dutch Research Institute (NWO) and CCAFS for the project "Understanding and scaling Organisational Structures of business models for SMAllholder REsilience (OSMARE).

OSMARE aims to define how the organizational structures of thirteen selected business models in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania stimulate smallholder resilience to market, social and environmental shocks through Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA)-related incentives.

One of these thirteen business models will be the partnership between the Malawi Milk Producer Association (MMPA) and Lilongwe Dairy Limited seeking to develop a more effective and less greenhouse gas (GHG)-intensive local value chain from dairy farms to urban consumers.

Within this case, we will investigate: does the MMPA-Lilongwe Dairy trigger dairy smallholder farmer entrepreneurship and expand their value networks over time and, ultimately, make them more resilient? How does this process unfolds over time and how it allows including women, youth and other marginalised actors in the daily farming community?

Smallholder resilience represents a crucial ability for farmers to adapt to unexpected systemic shocks inherent to agri-food systems. Agribusiness managers and development actors, as well as farmers themselves, can use these organizational structures as levers to enhance smallholder resilience, thus fostering competitiveness, inclusiveness and mitigating or preventing the effects of climate change in the medium and long run. 

Resilience will be assessed in terms of development of farmers’ entrepreneurial processes and their embeddedness in value networks with other stakeholders in the system. During and after the investigation, personal and group trainings will provide spaces for smallholders, their representatives and stakeholders to exchange knowledge and reciprocally foster their capacities. 

Based on the findings from two complementary studies involving 2,600 farmers in three years, results will be disseminated and discussed with local farmer organizations and their stakeholders, including agribusiness managers and development actors, to draw actionable implications for scaling up and scaling out innovative and best-fit business models to support the transformation to climate-smart agriculture.

This is the broad conceptual framework that we will refine into specific hypotheses and test as part of the OSMARE project:

For more information about this project, feel free to contact our newly hired postdoc scholar Drs. Rob Lubberink, who will coordinate the project implementation, or me

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Consumer entrepreneurship

Thanks to the fieldwork of our students Isabel Miralles, Pintip Sevikul and Charlotte Walther (Wageningen University) and our partner Dr. Giuseppina Migliore (University of Palermo), we observed members' practices in 31 food and energy communities around Europe for more than 5 years - in Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

Through this journey, we had an epiphany: in (some) informal contexts of sharing, consumers get entrepreneurial! 

What do we mean with that? 

Similar to business entrepreneurs, consumer entrepreneurs recombine resources innovatively to seek opportunities for value. 

Yet, differently from business entrepreneurs, consumer entrepreneurs aim to create user value - for themselves and others in their community (e.g., good food, more sustainable and/or cheaper energy) - as opposed to create exchange value - for others  in exchange of a reward.

So, through informal sharing, consumers recuperate and celebrate the original meaning of entrepreneurship (Shane and Ventakaraman 2000) - that is, entrepreneurship as a social practice and not exclusively as a business practice.

Starting from here, in this research we started exploring when, how and why consumer entrepreneurship takes place.

This has implications for practice and theory:

1. Members in food and energy communities (and other frugal sharing communities) can work on their entrepreneurial competencies to improve their own well-being and the one of their family and community. A well-being not based on exchanging something to gain rewards from others, but a well-being based on experimenting the best possible uses of available resources as a collectivity.

2. Many academic circles around agro-ecology, sociology and community development  often look at entrepreneurship as a "mean thing". But this comes from a misperception of what entrepreneurship actually is, i.e. recombining resource innovatively to create various forms of value - not only to make money. This opens up highways for thinking and practicing how to purposively use entrepreneurship to stimulate value creation in communities "for the good".

3. We explain in the chapter how consumer entrepreneurship differs ontologically from other uses of the term entrepreneurship: user entrepreneurship, community-based entrepreneurship and even social/sustainable entrepreneurship.

See the abstract of this book chapter here below and, in case that you have no access to the full-text, please ask it to us via ResearchGate

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Adapting the measurement of youth entrepreneurship potential in a marginalised context: The case of Mindanao, Philippines

Authors: Cynthia Lai; Domenico Dentoni; Catherine Chan; Elma M. Neyra

New CAFE logo, Mindanao, Philippines (2015). Source:

Societal Impact: This study was instrumental to select out-of-school youth (18-24 years old) to participate in an entrepreneurial education program (called UPLOAD JOBS and funded by USAID) in Central Cotabato, Mindanao, The Philippines. As an outcome of the program, 16 start-ups procuring and marketing local agri-food products were created - including banana chips, mushrooms, coco sugar, squash jam, nuts, soap, empanadas, etc. Moreover, as an outcome of the program, the Center for Agricultural & Farmland Entrepreneurship (CAFE) was founded - to support and integrate the entrepreneurial thinkers of Mindanao, including private and public sector individuals, entrepreneurs, farmers, businesses, government, non-government and community organisations.

Map of Central Cotabato, Mindanao, The Philippines, were data collection and program were grounded.

Abstract: Few studies have so far discussed how to measure youth entrepreneurship potential, a critical construct to enhance the success and performance outcomes of entrepreneurship education programs. This article investigates the adaptation of a measurement model of youth entrepreneurship potential, which a psychology strand of the extant entrepreneurship literature from the USA and Europe identified as characteristics of 'successful' future entrepreneurs. Two subsequent questionnaires were administered to measure youth entrepreneurship potential as part of an entrepreneurship education program in Mindanao, Philippines, a marginalised context. The first questionnaire had scales based on personality traits of autonomy, need for achievement, innovativeness and risk-taking propensity as per the extant literature, while the second had adapted scales to the local context. A confirmatory factor analysis tested the effectiveness of both measurement models. Results indicated that the locally adapted measurement model was more effective to assess youth entrepreneurship potential in the context of Mindanao, Philippines.

Cynthia Lai's presentation at the Annual IFAMA Symposium 2014. Source:

This article is not open access, but please email us to receive a full-text copy privately.

Monday, July 24, 2017

New course on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies

Stemming from our experience with the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation and the Center for Development Innovation, this brand-new optional course for Master, PhD students and practitioners will start in September-October 2017 and will repeat in period 1 every year. The course is also part of the MSc Entrepreneurship Track. 

Enrol now here!

You can also participate as a practitioner, guest student from another university or as former Wageningen University MSc or PhD alumni: 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Prosocial organising workshop

This workshop organised around a Journal of Business Venturing special issue at Ivey Business School, London (Ontario), was by far the biggest (work-related) surprise of my April.

I went there really worried and came back really uplifted. I wish workshops were always like that.

Prosocial organising? Do we really need another fairly difficult concept out there? Does it help us to understand what entrepreneurship is, how does it take place and evolves over time? How does it contribute informing entrepreneurs on how to tackle social problems and develop visions for a thriving change for our neighbourhoods, communities and other systems we are embedded in?

Well, it seems it does... During the workshop I had at least three epiphanies:

  1. Prosocial motivations and behaviours have specific and well-defined meanings, that is, having concern for others and voluntary practices intended to benefit others. And the study of organising processes around prosociality is at least old as I am (Brief and Motowidlo 1986);
  2. There is still a knowledge gap on how prosocial organising relates to processes of integrating competing values in organisations, interplays with other existing institutions (families, communities, laws, markets) and contributes to achieve impact in society. 
  3. Prosocial organising is actually a concrete thing. It was humbling to live and touch the experiences of great people - an international kayak champion, a laundry social entrepreneur, a entrepreneur cutting across construction and toy business, and a youth empowerment social entrepreneurs. Their life stories were incredibly touching.

Perhaps the most uplifting thing for me was to see the workshop organisers and my fellow participants enacting - what I understood so far of - prosocial organising.

This really helped my co-authors and me in seeing our enormous dataset and long experience with food and energy consumer communities in a new and more nuanced light.

Thank you. These things make academia beautiful and do have lots of unexpected spillovers.