The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Netherlands commissioned SEO Amsterdam Economics to carry out a Mid-Term Review (MTR) of 2SCALE, an incubator and accelerator programme in agricultural food sectors in Africa. 2SCALE (an acronym for ‘Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness through Learning in Entrepreneurship’) develops public-private partnerships (PPPs) and supports inclusive agribusiness entrepreneurs (SMEs and farmer organisations) in producing healthy food products for local markets in eight African countries. 2SCALE is funded by the MFA (with co-funding from private partners) and implemented by IFDC, SNV and BoPInc.

In 2017-2018, SEO carried out the evaluation of 2SCALE’s Phase 1 (2012-2019). This MTR focussed on the preliminary outcomes of Phase 2 (2019-2023). The main purpose of the MTR was to review the progress to date and provide recommendations for programme adjustments, so as to help increase the probability of success over the remainder of 2SCALE’s second phase. SEO carried out the MTR between February and July 2021, in partnership with MDF Training & Consultancy.

 Key findings
The evaluation team concluded that 2SCALE made strong progress in the first two years of Phase 2, in spite of the operational challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the MTR also revealed a number of constraints:

  • 2SCALE partnerships generally pursued too many objectives. With a potential negative effect on the efficiency, effectiveness, impact, sustainability, and even relevance of partnerships.
  • The “nutrition awareness” of 2SCALE and partners’ staff can be improved, given the emphasis on food security.
  • The Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) relevance of 2SCALE could be further improved by focusing on countries (and regions) with the greatest food security gaps.
  • Due to the large number of partners and many intervention themes, 2SCALE partnerships were challenging to prepare, implement and manage.
  • At the time of the evaluation, 2SCALE was not well structured to initiate sub-sector transformation.

For this evaluation, SEO and MDF used a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, whilst using Contribution Analysis as the overall evaluation methodology. The evaluation followed the lines of the OECD-DAC criteria and the main research methods included:

  • Extensive desk review of programme and project documents and case study specific background literature;
  • Analysis of portfolio and M&E data obtained from 2SCALE;
  • Design, implementation, and analysis of a newly designed online stakeholder survey among 250 2SCALE Phase 2 stakeholders;
  • Statistical analysis of PrC survey data (survey among 2SCALE Phase 1 stakeholders);
  • Interviews with 2SCALE management and field office staff, as well as MFA (IGG, DDE, IOB).
  • In-depth case studies, covering six partnerships in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Kenya. In collaboration with local consultants we interviewed a variety of stakeholders for each case study (including farmers, 2SCALE staff, local governments, independent experts).