PRIME organized a half-day Lessons-Learned Event at Hilton Hotel

PRIME organized a half-day Lessons-Learned Event at Hilton Hotel on February 14, 2017, attended by more than 130 guests, including delegates from USAID and Government.  The event was launched by a welcome speech from the Mercy Corps Country Director and a 20-minute documentary on PRIME.  Panelists included technical leaders of the PRIME team as well as beneficiaries.  Stephen Morin, Chief Office of Economic Growth & Transformation, from USAID closed the presentations, and all participants were invited to view posters and maps describing the achievements of PRIME in all regions.

PRIME’s work to enhance resilience of more than 15,000 households inaugurated

Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) held an inauguration ceremony to mark the completion of the Haro Bake Micro Dam in the Borana Zone of Oromia Regional State on 3 November 2015. The ceremony was attended by the Aba Gada and his councils, community representatives, zone and woreda officials, representatives of the Ministry of Livestock and Fishery and PRIME leadership including Mercy Corps country Director, PRIME COP, and staff from SOS Sahel, CARE Ethiopia Mercy Corps Ethiopia. The ceremony was concluded with a panel discussion among Aba Gada, elders, government representatives, PRIME staff, and community members in which important decisions on how to maintain and utilize the dam were made.

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Bake is the largest rain harvesting structure in Borana land and the rehabilitation work has enhanced people’s ability to cope with scarcity of water during bad rainy seasons, contributing to overall resilience of the community in the area. As the result of the rehabilitation, over 15,000 households will have access to water for domestic and livestock consumption during critical dry periods.
The event was characterized by a festive mood and upbeat discourse. The Borana Zone vice administrator, Abdiselam Wario, for example said, “Rehabilitation of Bake really makes a difference in pastoral production to people here, whose livelihood depends on availability of water. No water means no livestock, no production, and no life.” He thanked PRIME for saving the life of the dam, lives of people and their key asset, livestock.” He was in fact so happy that he named the dam “Borana Renaissance Dam”. The Gomole range land council leader, Abba Dheeda, said, “Bake is our life; it is a huge rehabilitation; we couldn’t have done it without PRIME support”.
Sustainability and environment were a couple of issues Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) PRIME took very seriously when undertaking this activity. For ensuring lasting maintenance and utilization of the resource, PRIME partnered and coordinated with government institutions, community elders and non-governmental organizations right from the start. In the panel discussion PRIME held at the end of the event, thorough deliberations of how to maintain and utilize the dam were held with government and community representatives. Accordingly, the dam management was handed over to the relevant customary administrative units. Oromia’s Borana Zone is known for its very successful water control and management system, which has evolved to be one of the most elaborate and suitable structure with apt checks and balances to enable people use water and pasture equitably and sustainably with minimal conflicts. The system proved to be so efficient that it has won buy-in from community and government. By linking the dam with such effective system, PRIME ensured judicious and lasting utilization of the dam. The project will continue to support government and community to run it efficiently through further capacity-building interventions.

For the press release about the event by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa visit 


USAID- PRIME Supported Jigiga Export Slaughterhouse (JESH) has started operation on December 24th 2016

USAID- PRIME Supported Jigiga Export Slaughterhouse (JESH) has started operation on December 24th 2016 and exported the first batch of 1.5 tons of chilled meat to United Arab Emirates (UAE) on December 25 2016. JESH is expected to export the second rounds of 4tons chilled meat on 27th December 2016. JESH’s operation is expected to ramp up steadily from now onward. This is a major breakthrough in Ethiopian Somali Region and it opens up a huge new market for tens of thousands of livestock producers/ pastoralist in the region. USAID- PRIME is delighted as JESH starts its operations and will continue to facilitate market linkages between JESH and Livestock producers.

Settle In! Two Vignettes To Simmer Over ‘Round The Fire

Bridging the Gap: Financing Economic Growth in Ethiopia’s Pastoral Areas 

The challenge: How can we bridge the financing gap among Ethiopia’s pastoral population?  Ethiopia has one of the lowest financial inclusion rates in sub-Saharan Africa with only 14 percent of the adult population able to access formal financial services. This figure drops as low as one percent in rural areas.

The solution: USAID’s Pastoral Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) project, implemented by Mercy Corps, includes a six million USD Innovation Investment Fund (IIF) that supports medium- to large-scale enterprises operating within or directly benefitting pastoral areas in the Somali, Afar, and Oromia regional states.

How it mobilized private capital: The IIF facilitates finance to growth-oriented businesses through matching grants/contracts, leveraging local capital for investments in a range of market development activities that improve market linkages, generate employment, and increase financial inclusion.

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How it was inclusive: The financing gap in Ethiopia is most evident for small and medium enterprises, in general, but it is especially acute for Ethiopia’s Muslim population – a group that makes up 34 percent of the total. One of the stipulations in Islamic banking is that charging interest is not allowed, and yet, interest-free financial products are largely unavailable. The Muslim population comprises up to 98 percent of the total population in the areas of PRIME’s interventions, and thus the IIF improves the financial inclusion of these individuals and businesses in the regions in which we work.

How it was innovative: To date, the IIF has signed agreements with six companies for a total value of around six million USD, with private sector cost-share of $24.8 million USD, or 80 percent! Companies that received support include a slaughterhouse, a micro-finance institution and mobile service provider, a private equity firm, a poultry farm and two milk processing facilities.

Lessons learned: Not every partnership with the private sector will be successful, unless you pay close attention to a number of factors: finding the right business, extensive due diligence, having the right NGO team with the right skills, having the correct agreement/contract format, and putting a good monitoring and evaluation plan in place from the design stage.
This vignette was submitted by Mercy Corps, a global leader in market systems development with initiatives in over 27 countries. To learn more, visit or contact Bethel Tsegaye ([email protected]), Innovation Investment Fund Manager of PRIME – Mercy Corps Ethiopia. 

For more information about the structure and best practices of implementing an innovation fund, link to the full report here.  

The second vignette comes from Chemonics, where a small investment of public funds was used to bring in private funds at a 5:1 private to public ratio – benefitting 3 million smallholder farmers in the process.

Uganda Feed the Future Commodity Production and Marketing Activity (CPMA)

The challenge: Agricultural productivity in Uganda is low, in part because only approximately 1 percent of farmers utilize fertilizers. The fertilizers in the market are often not appropriate for the land and the package sizes are too large for smallholder farmers.

The solution: Savannah Commodities Co, a locally owned agro-processor, recognized the enormous market potential of providing small packages of custom blended fertilizer to smallholders (which comprise 96 percent of Ugandan farmers), and partnered with CPMA to create a fertilizer blending and packaging facility.

How it mobilized private capital: Savannah approached CPMA and leveraged the program’s deep knowledge of and access to smallholders, as well as the technical assistance it provided to them. Additionally, CPMA agreed to invest more than $168,000 USD to procure fertilizer blending and packaging equipment, in tandem with Savannah’s investment of approximately $850,000 USD, resulting in USAID leverage of 5:1, as required by CPMA. The blending facility will remain part of the CPMA inventory until the conclusion of the Activity, at which point, with USAID approval, ownership may be transferred to Savannah.

How it was inclusive: This investment addresses a market need specific to smallholders by providing one to two kilo packages of fertilizer which is custom blended for their own plots of land, thereby leading to increased yields. Through a combination of Savannah’s existing network of smallholders and CPM’s farmers, Savannah expects to reach over three million smallholders.

How it was innovative: This is the first custom fertilizer blending facility in Uganda, and the first time that Savannah co-invested in procurement of equipment with USAID.

Lessons learned:  If there is a demonstrated business need (unmet market demand), you can create a win-win partnership with the private sector. Companies are willing to invest when there is a real business opportunity. USAID funding can exploit those opportunities and leverage the investments. This vignette was submitted by Eileen E. Hoffman ([email protected]), Director of Economic Growth and Trade Practice at Chemonics.

So as we spread out our bedroll for the night, we intend to ponder what we have learned so far in the journey – what we mean by “mobilizing private capital” and how it can support financial inclusion; the different ways we can undertake it; how the financial system works; and what we can do about risk.  And in our next post, we will try to make sense of why it all matters and why our Microlinks community should pay attention to it.



PRIME Small Grants are Benefiting the Actors in the Milk Value Chain

The USAID-supported, Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) project’s partnership with various businesses is improving market systems by building capacities, strengthening relationships, and aligning incentives in pursuit of shared objectives. PRIME’s interventions are gaining buy-ins from various actors, including government. The interventions are stimulating pressure points within market systems to encourage change that supports increased competitiveness, value addition and support to each other.
PRIME is one of the few projects that have embraced the market facilitation approach in Ethiopia. As a pioneer, PRIME is facing challenges in implementing this approach. There are, however, strong indications that the approach is starting to bear fruits. For an example of such gains, to read this success story click the link below,