Promoting Sustainable Solutions of Adaptation to Climate Change for the Expansion of the Green Portfolio and Inclusion of Rural Women Entrepreneurs
This was a cost-sharing project supported the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). The project’s primary objectives are to: (1) strengthen the capacity of 2,000 small-scale farmers and rural women to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices; and 2) improve their access to financial products that support productive investments. By meeting these objectives, the project would improve the living condition of these farmers and rural women. It follows an earlier project, “Promoting competiveness of agricultural value chains in the Dominican Republic” involving Banco de Ahorro y Credito ADOPEM, CTA, CODESPA and REDDOM foundations and ADOPEN NGO from 2015 to 2017. The latter was implemented in parallel with a programme entitled “Rural and environmental finance” (FRA), which was implemented in 2016 by Banco de Ahorro y Credito ADOPEM, in collaboration with the Dominican Network of Micro-Finance Institutions (REDOMIF). Outputs of FRA were two financial products, namely Eco-Credito and “Agro Mujer ADOPEM”. The former product was targeted at small-scale farmers to assist them in investing in processes and technologies that would improve their environmental conditions and improve their ability to adapt to the impact of climate change. The latter product was to increase the access of rural women to finance for the development of economic activities.
The viability of these two products was evaluated through a pilot project. Further assessments revealed that, apart from access to finance for productive activities, small-scale farmers and rural women also needed access to market information and improved skills and abilities to support innovation, entrepreneurship and their adaptation to climate change. Encouraged by the evaluation results, ADOPEM subsequently took the strategic decision to extend the FRA programme to other provinces within the Dominican Republic.
Against this backdrop and building on the earlier partnership, in 2018 ADOPEM entered into a new 2-year cost-sharing partnership with CTA. This partnership was to support the expansion of the FRA program. In essence, this meant deepening the access of small-scale farmers and women in rural areas to the two financial products. The main activities under this project were supporting farmers to incorporate sustainable, productive technical options in their farms; strengthening their socio-business capacities; “greening” ADOPEM’s product offerings through the training of technical and operational staff of ADOPEM in environmental policy; improving the business management capacity of producers; and improving family incomes and living conditions through improved access to green finance products (i.e. Eco-Credit and Agro Mujer ADOPEM). A total of 2,600 small-scale rural producers in the southern communities of Peravia Provinces, San José de Ocoa, San Cristóbal, Barahona, Bahoruco, Elías Piña, Pedernales and Independencia were targeted as beneficiaries. Of this number, 250 were rural women. Eighty-seven per cent of the 3,730 beneficiaries (excluding 167 credits and 679 staff) indicated that they had incorporated sustainable technical options in their farms (42%) and businesses (45%), with 36% seeing improvements in their living conditions. One hundred and sixty-seven agricultural producers accessed credit during the lifespan of the project, with 434 credits in the pipeline, 26% of whom were women living in rural areas. These achievements indicate that this 17-month project had meaningful impact, outcomes and outputs. It has set an environment conducive for the 679 ADOPEM and SAB staff to expand its green financial services in the southern communities covered by the project.
There is relatively little evidence of a clearly articulated business case to support the design of this CTA cost-sharing project. There are, however, elements of a business case found in the project document. These include the need for the project, its key objectives and its learning outcomes. In terms of how the project was organised (i.e. project governance and project reporting), there is a clear structure and different levels of decision-making are articulated. Throughout the project’s execution, ADOPEM met all reporting requirements and updated its work plan as stipulated in the project agreement. One can fairly conclude that, through this project, ADOPEM has established a relatively robust project management system and procedures. Coupled with strong knowledge and a human resource base of trained ADOPEM and SAB staff, the bank can now handle an enlarged administrative and geographic coverage of project activities, thereby meeting the growing demand of agricultural producers and rural women for financing products.
Key to the success of this project was good project management and monitoring systems, coupled with the application of an innovative information and communication technology (ICT) platform. With regards to the financial management of the project, during project execution, there were approved reallocations of funds to facilitate payment for conferences/seminars and professional services. In all instances, ADOPEM made a formal request to CTA for reallocation, and these were subsequently approved. Except for the budget allocated for travel, the budgeted sums for all other expense items were completely exhausted. A discrepancy which warrants clarification is CTA’s contribution, which by agreement was not to exceed 59% of the total budget, i.e. €219,500. The final audit report verified CTA’s contribution at 61%.
Lessons learned included the critical need for simplification of financial reporting and expense verification requirements, early preparation of detailed work breakdown structures for component activities, and a repository of service providers to support the timely execution of projects of such relatively short duration.
From the perspective of sustainability, ADOPEM has demonstrated that as an organisation it is committed to creating greater opportunities for small-scale farmers and rural women in the Dominican Republic, primarily through offering green financial products and technical support services to the targeted beneficiaries. There are now over 600 ADOPEM and SAB staff members who have become knowledgeable about sustainable farming practices and trained in environmental policy and the use of environmental and social risk analysis systems in their processing of credit applications.