Pro-poor Development or Trojan Horse? A Case Study of a Danish Social Business in Kenya

Charlotte Boyer Chammard

Student thesis: Master thesis


Agricultural development in rural areas is a key element for pro-poor development and in recent years the social business model has made its place as an actor for development. This thesis aims to understand to what extent a social business contributes to pro-poor agricultural development, through a single case study of a Danish social business operating in rural Kenya. The social business provides farm inputs and training in new farming practice to small-scale maize farmers on a loan basis. The research takes on a social constructivist approach to grounded theory to analyze 18 semi-structured interviews with small-scale farmers that are the target of the intervention, as well as three semi-structured interviews with local staff and seven semi-structured interviews with community members that are not yet beneficiaries. The findings show that local agents express positive views towards the social business as the farmers have increased farm productivity and have been empowered to pursue agricultural intensification strategies through knowledge creation and social ties. Nonetheless, results show this increase in supply has flooded the market and thus resulted in significant drop in the price of maize at a local level. Assessed within the sustainable livelihoods framework, the findings show that due to the quasi-absent linkages between farmers and buyers have created tensions, which undermine the livelihood strategies of the farmers. Therefore, the social business has increased the possibility of farmers to take part in maize cultivation, as a livelihood strategy, but this has not given rise to opportunities in the agricultural sector on the market side, rather has undermined them, thus jeopardizing a sustainable impact for pro-poor agricultural development. The discussion enables for a reflection on the findings, and more specifically on the social business’ prospects for longterm strategies for pro-poor agricultural development by taking into account elements of historical background and literature and leads to wider observations about the roles and limitations of social businesses in the development context. The conclusion then exposes the practical and theoretical implications of the research.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages103
SupervisorsKristjan Jespersen