The Clinton Development Initiative: Helping to Improve Africa's Economy

Updated on May 22, 2016

The Clinton Development Initiative first started out as “The Clinton Hunter Development Initiative.” Sir Tom Hunter, the Scottish sporting goods magnate and the first ever billionaire hailing from Scotland, initially pledged $100 million to the Clinton Foundation to create this initiative as a partnership between his foundation, the Hunter Foundation, and President Clinton’s. The 2008 financial crash hurt Sir Hunter’s investments, however, and he had to tell President Clinton he could only donate $20-25 million at the time, though he did promise to donate the full amount just in a slower time frame. The Clinton Hunter Development Initiative subsequently was renamed to what is now the Clinton Development Initiative.

The Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) is similar to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership in that it encourages the build-up of an area’s local market economy, but CDI only focuses on agribusiness initiatives. Also, while the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Initiative works mainly in the Caribbean and Latin America, CDI concentrates its focus mainly on the sub-Saharan African countries of Malawi, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The Clinton Development Initiative has three programs: The Anchor Farm Project, Trees of Hope Project, and Soyco Ltd.

The Anchor Farm Project

The Anchor Farm Project’s goal is to help local farmers by improving their farming practices and access to markets thereby increasing yields, raising incomes, and improving the local economy. To do this, CDI runs a commercial farm, meaning it’s focused on growing a single crop, but it doesn’t grow crops on its own, it partners with local farmers to grow crops and increase the agribusiness economy of a region. Farmers in this part of the world often run into trouble because of a degraded environment like depleted soils, lack of access to fertilizer and pesticides to help their crops survive, and poor market access forcing farmers to sell to traders who take advantage of the situation by buying their crops at too low prices. The Anchor Farm Project is the way the Clinton Development Initiative tries to tackle this problem.

The Project works in a four step process: word of the Anchor Farm Project spreads through radio advertisements, CDI sponsored field day events, and word of mouth; farmers join the Project in groups of up to twenty and the Project teaches them better farming practices for corn and soy, simplifies contracts, and connects them with financing options from the local government or area banks; farmers plant their crops using the techniques learned; and lastly, the Project eases access to markets by connecting them with buyers.

As of 2015, 56,000 farmers in Malawi have been helped by the Anchor Farm Project. Yields have increased by 150% and because of contracts negotiated by CDI, prices for the soy crop have increased by 167% resulting in increased incomes for the local Malawian farmers. The Anchor Farm Project is so successful, the Tanzanian government asked the Clinton Foundation to expand the program to their country, which CDI is working to do. CDI, with support from the German government, is also building three health clinics in the Mchinji and Kasungu districts of Malawi because, as they found out, farmers needed better health care access in addition to farming help for them and their families.

In the 2013 Clinton Foundation Annual Report, Malawian farmer Lucy Banda wrote a letter relating how the Clinton Development Initiative has helped her:

“I first learned about the Anchor Farm Project in 2012 after a visit to a friend’s field. It was just before harvest. Upon walking through her field I noticed how strong, healthy, and productive her maize and soya crops were. She told me about the project, and how it had helped her improve her crop yields. I wanted to have healthier crops too. It was then that I joined the project. Lustia, the field officer who works for the Clinton Development Initiative in my village, has taught me to use new farming techniques to help improve my soil, make my land more productive, and increase yields of my crops.

Before joining the Anchor Farm Project, I produced about twenty-two 50 kg bags of maize and four to six 50 kg bags of soya beans each year. After the second growing season with the Anchor Farm Project, my annual production of maize increased to sixty 50 kg bags and my annual soya bean harvest to thirty-seven 50 kg bags, which has increased my yearly income from $50 to $750. Now, with this extra income, I have been able to build a new house and purchase a solar panel that brings light into my home, which enables my children to study at night.

After the second growing season with the Anchor Farm Project, my income increased further, and I was able to buy an ox cart – one of only seven ox carts in my village of more than 500 people. I also bought one full-grown ox to draw the cart, and one younger ox, which will soon be old enough to draw the cart too. This year, I hope to increase my soya production, finish my house by pouring a concrete floor to replace my current dirt floor, and buy a vehicle. Having a vehicle will help me and others in my village access markets to buy and sell goods and reach hospitals for health care. I now serve as secretary of my local farmers’ club which hosts demonstrations of new farming techniques, so I can help other farmers improve their crops and incomes so they can better support their families too.
Lucy Banda
Anchor Farm Project”

A picture was provided in the Annual Report of Mrs. Banda at her home with her lovely family.


Trees of Hope Project

Climate change and deforestation are both negatively affecting Malawi. The Tree of Hope Project combats both of these problems by having farmers plant trees in the Dowa and Neno districts of Malawi using these five systems: mixed woodlot, boundary planting, dispersed systematic inter-planting, citrus fruit orchard, and mango orchard (yum!). Through Plan Vivo Certification, administered by Plan Vivo, a Scottish philanthropic organization, tree farmers get paid by selling carbon certificates, a form of payment called PES (Payment for Environmental Services). 400 community (tree) nurseries have been created, and 2.6 million hardwood, citrus, and mango trees have been planted as of the 2013 Annual Report by 2,300 small holder farmers resulting in 200,000 tons of sequestered CO2. Almost $100,000 have entered the local economy because of this program.

The new trees planted will not only combat climate change but also improve the local environment. Reforestation will reduce soil erosion, improve soil fertility, and limit deforestation by providing tree farms for the local population’s wood needs.

Mount Meru Soyco Ltd.

In Rwanda, the Clinton Foundation still works in partnership with the Hunter Foundation so CDI is still named the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative there. And in Rwanda, the CHDI helps the local economy by providing a reliable buyer for Rwandan farmers’ soy crop. The CHDI together with Rwandan co-investors created the Mount Meru Soyco Ltd. to buy soy crops to make cooking oil. This helps to grow the Rwandan economy through investment, supply a needed product to local consumers, and provide a steady buyer for Rwandan soya farmers. 24,000 small holder farmers supply their crops to Soyco, and CDI has also partnered with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to work with Rwandan farmers to help them with better farming practices.

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