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Private sector engagement in ASHC phase 2

The Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) has reviewed its rules of engagement with the private sector.  Dannie Romney, the project executive for the , explained: “We have had good experiences working with the private sector over the past few years in ASHC. However, with encouragement from our technical advisory group, we have been exploring how these relationship should develop if we are fortunate to be awarded a phase 2 grant.”

Private sector engagement in ASHC phase 2


In phase 1, largely as a result of COMPROII, ASHC has been working with private sector input suppliers.  COMPROII was a straightforward proposition.

ASHC was under contract to deliver communications services for products that had been identified in a major scoping study looking at the efficacy of over 100 products.  This brought ASHC into contact with MEA Fertilizer and Notore Chemical Industries.

In addition ASHC phase 1 worked with a range of private sector communication service providers including Shujaaz, Shamba Shape-Up, Fibrelink in communications experiments. Many of these, due to the nature of their product offer, effectively had monopoly supply situations.

In addition ASHC worked with a number of freelance providers of design or other specialists communication services.

Phase 2

ASHC phase 2 aims to work with private sector agro-dealers and input suppliers in particular and may work with

other private sector service providers.  With guidance of the ASHC TAG the following rules of engagement have been developed:

Principle ASHC should not be seen to be endorsing material for private sector suppliers

When ASHC develops generic materials – pack shots of commercial products may be used.  However, images should show where different companies are providing similar products. Showing packs and brands is very helpful in a low literacy environment. Using chemical names for active ingredients in products is not an effective way to share information.  In some cases there will be only one brand in a country – such as inoculant – in which case ASHC will use pack shots of the only supplier.·

ASHC will not use its logo on private sector materials such as point of sale materials or pack designs – where appropriate a short linage statement such as Developed and designed by the Africa Soil Heath Consortium – will be added to the materials.

Principle ASHC should offer opportunities to all players in the market

When ASHC is invited to work with private sector partners it should attempt to create a level playing field – working across the market.  This should start with contacting trade associations or major players in the market and setting out the ASHC offer.

This should not preclude ASHC starting to work with any private sector company and responding to their deadlines – but before the work is delivered to the private sector partner, ASHC must contact the other players in the field to see if other opportunities exist in the market.

ASHC might make a call to the private sector to become a partner either contacting the companies directly or through a third party organization such as a trade body.

Exceptions to this approach would be, for example, where ASHC was asked to be a partner in a tender or a call from a third party

Principle ASHC should work with the right commercial partners

ASHC needs to make adequate checks and undertake due diligence to ensure that its partners are financially stable, have a good track record and have in place the necessary government approvals to offer products in the ASHC focus countries.Only in exceptional cases will ASHC work with start-up companies.

Principle ASHC will usually work within Creative Commons – but in appropriate cases it will ensure commercial confidences are kept In some cases ASHC may have the chance to work on third party campaign in such cases and ASHC deems the public good to be strong enough, it will work on the basis of non-disclosure and ensuring commercial confidences are kept.

ASHC may provide material to the commercial sector under a Creative Commons license – but in the spirit of Creative Commons this will never be on an exclusive basis