Success Factors for Lead Firms to Shape Inclusive Procurement

In 2010 Oxfam and Unilever worked collaboratively to examine how to do business with women and men smallholders in a way that improves their livelihoods and that informs Unilever's business model and Oxfam's development model. Together they collaborated on research to look at Unilever's and other companies' business models for engaging with smallholder farmers.

This consultancy facilitated part of the research for this programme and examined best practices both operationally and in the literature surrounding business models from the view point of inclusivity of smallholder farmers. The purpose of the research was to identify:

  • the key success factors and lessons;
  • the key leverage points where companies and their suppliers can affect positive change for smallholder producer livelihoods;
  • which incentive structures and support mechanisms could help create the opening for suppliers to test/implement more inclusive practices.

The research focused on lead firm influence over suppliers at the smallholder trading interface, based on an understanding of the trading process and different signals that procurement managers are responding to, some of which are complementary and some are contradictory to targets for inclusion of smallholders. It also focused on understanding supplier-smallholder trading relationships, and insights on how inclusive business can be operationalised by suppliers within a growth strategy.

Photo of Jodie Thorpe, Globalisation research fellow

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Partner organisations

Partner researchers

Bill Vorley
Project Dates:
November 2011 - March 2013
Project Status:
Unilever UK & Ireland
Research Themes / Programmes:
Business and Development Centre
Innovation and value chains