Impact and risk metrics play an important role in efforts by investors, technical assistance providers, certification bodies, and corporations to close the over $400 billion gap between demand for and supply of finance to smallholder farmers. 

Metrics can help demonstrate industry impact, improve operating efficiency, and foster collaboration on industry infrastructure to grow the market. A well-implemented metrics strategy can also help to mitigate reputational risks arising from unintended effects on farmers and their families, communities, or ecosystems.

But the current landscape of smallholder finance impact and risk metrics is crowded with multiple units of analysis, target users, and objectives; it is confusing to industry leaders and daunting to potential new entrants. The Initiative for Smallholder Finance hopes to clarify the space and enable greater collaboration through the tools housed on this page, which are explained in our briefing document, “Smallholder Impact and Risk Metrics: A Labyrinth of Opportunity.”

The first tool, a universal theory of change for smallholder finance, seeks to build a shared vision among ecosystem actors and enable greater collaboration when measuring and reporting impact.

The theory of change allowed us to build the smallholder impact literature Wiki, which aggregates research, trials, and studies on smallholder impact so smallholder agricultural investors can quickly access a growing body of research about the impact of their work.

The theory of change also underpins an interactive Prezi map of the current landscape of smallholder impact and risk assessment tools, which intends to help practitioners quickly identify metrics and data collection tools to report the scale of their impact.

ISF Metrics introduction

Smallholder Finance Theory of Change

This universal theory of change represents an emerging consensus on a common theory of change across the smallholder finance community. The Initiative for Smallholder Finance developed the theory of change based on consultation with leading smallholder agricultural investors, technical assistance experts, certification bodies, commercial agricultural brands, and many of the foundations supporting smallholders. With many actors in the smallholder support community working at different levels of the agricultural value chain, this theory of change helps to create a shared vision for how these efforts combine to promote smallholders’ prosperity and environmental stewardship.
Smallholder ToC updated

Smallholder Impact Literature Wiki

The Smallholder Impact Literature Wiki is a living resource for the smallholder community to capture, organize, and easily access the growing body of literature about smallholder interventions. Users are welcome to add new resources and edit existing information.   The Wiki aims to give practitioners quick access to studies on smallholder impact, help practitioners understand the context affecting programs similar to theirs, enable field builders to prioritize research that fills the gaps, and provide a platform for researchers to promote their work.

Metrics wiki

Interactive map of smallholder finance impact and risk assessment tools

This interactive map and accompanying video presents an inventory of principles, methodologies, metrics, data collection efforts, and data aggregators that can be used to guide, track, measure, and report activities in support of smallholder farming.
Looking across many of the metrics tools and libraries featured in this landscape, the Initiative has made an effort to understand how metrics of interest vary between the financial, technical assistance, certification, and value chain communities. Click here to download a spreadsheet of the most common indicators in each space.
Prezi screenshot
To learn more, watch the recording of our webinar, "Five New Technologies to Simplify Data Collection in Smallholder Finance," featuring Acopio (Fair Trade USA), EchoMobile, Geotraceability, Scope Insight, and Taro Works (Grameen Foundation).