Introducing Business (Development) Services in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal

ICCO’s (part of Cordaid) STARS program applies the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach, with an aim to change the way that markets work, so that poor people are included in the benefits of growth and economic development. Introducing Business (Development) Services (BDS and BS) and achieving their sustainability and scalability are important elements in this approach. In Rwanda, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, STARS has introduced demand-based B(D)S that are paid for by its users or other value chain actors. In its latest publication (see below), STARS presents the lessons that were learned along the way.

Introducing Business (Development) Services in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal

What are Business Development Services?
“BDS are services provided by (third) parties offering temporary support to develop a business,” explains Maurice Koppes, STARS’ Program Manager. “Examples are technical training on a range of subjects, management training, and other temporary services needed to improve business performance. Business services, on the other hand, or more permanent in nature such as logistical services, power and water, or market information,” Mr. Koppes adds.

A new digital information system in Senegal
In Senegal, STARS has supported agri-services/market information platform mLouma to develop new fee-based agri-services for value chain actors in the cowpea and onion VCs. Farmers and other value chain actors such as input suppliers, traders, processors and supporters such as banks and BS can access suitable information through the internet or SMS. The service is paid through a fee upon request of information. This service is called Xam Sa Mbay or ‘know your agriculture’.

“Xam Sa Mbay provides producers with information on market prices of agricultural products. In addition, it provides meteorological alerts such as rain forecasts, but also relevant information on available inputs and their suppliers, as well as agricultural best practices,” Idrissa Ba, STARS’ Country Lead in Senegal explains.

mLouma currently has a large number of subscribers for its services. In the cowpea and onion VCs, 16,441 farmers use the services of mLouma and pay for them. For the Xam Sa Mbay service, a challenge is to make sure information on the platform is accurate and remains updated. Especially POs and local traders that may not have reliable internet access have difficulties ensuring this. The sustainability of this service will depend on the number of paid transactions, which can only be ensured by a continued perceived relevance of the information that is available.

Ag training and spraying services in Rwanda
In Rwanda, STARS has worked on developing B(D)S within the cooperatives either as a fee-based or an embedded service. Starting with two Producer Organizations (POs), the program worked on awareness raising among PO members on the need for quality B(D)S services, while training the B(D)S providers in the Farmer Field Schools run by the PO. The embedded BDS services that were developed ranged from GAP on seed preparation, nursery bed preparation for rice, weeding, handling and responsible use of fertilizers and chemicals spraying. Farmers were also trained on entrepreneurial skills such as selling at the right time and how to effectively negotiate prices with buyers.

STARS also facilitated the provision of fee-based spraying services (application of agrochemicals) in the rice VC. This intervention has had a positive effect on yields and lends itself well to collective provision, as individual rice producers typically lack the know-how on chemical application, and face difficulties in accessing appropriate products. The success of these fee-based services has come to the attention of the rice farmers’ federation of Rwanda (FUCORIRWA); who expressed the willingness to adopt the service for all their member rice POs. As a result, discussions with STARS about scaling up and scaling out is ongoing.

For more information about all B(D)S models STARS developed in Senegal, Rwanda, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, you can find the full publication below.


Strengthening African Rural Smallholders, in short STARS, is a five-year (2017–2021) program in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and ICCO Terrafina. Through a market system development approach the project focuses on improving access to finance and markets for more than 200,000 smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal and Burkina Faso.



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