GCFSI has a “light” structure supported by a vibrant network of students, faculty, entrepreneurs, managers, non-governmental organisations, social movements and government officials. This is in line with its vision and spirit: to develop a self-sustaining, long-standing knowledge and action network that combines novel principles of business management, innovation and entrepreneurship with the fight against poverty, food insecurity and violation of all human rights.
The program funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID) funds 25% of Dr. Domenico Dentoni’s full time contract from 2013 to 2017. Over time, the GCFSI has matched the funding from USAID with grants from the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Dutch Embassy in Kenya, and the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
A number of colleagues at the Management Studies Group in Wageningen University (Prof. Jacques Trienekens, Dr. Jos Bijman, Prof. Stefano Pascucci, Dr. Valentina Materia, Dr. Kim Poldner, Dr. Larissa Schnayder) and in close groups, such as Education and Competence Studies (Dr. Renate Wesselink, Dr. Thomas Lans and Dr. Arjen Wals), Marketing and Consumer Behaviour (Dr. Paul Ingenbleek) and Agricultural Economics and Policy (Dr. Liesbeth Dries) collaborate through research, education and/or training projects to the GCFSI.
Finally, the GCFSI team collaborates with a number of other entrepreneurial centres – not only as focusing on entrepreneurship, but also in their entrepreneurial way of approaching opportunities for value creation – in the Wageningen University & Research ecosystem, including:
- The Center for Development Innovation
- The Source Institute
- Nudge Impact Leadership Challenge
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Domenico Dentoni, Associate Professor and GCFSI Principal Investigator
After working for Oxfam Australia, the Italian Embassy in Ghana, the European Parliament and various consulting companies in Mozambique, Washington DC (USA) and Rome (Italy) and volunteering in a number of non profit organisations in Italy, Slovakia and Azerbaijan, I obtained a PhD major in Agribusiness Strategy and Management (and minor in International Development) at Michigan State University (USA) in 2006-2009 and a lecturer position at University of Adelaide in 2010.
Since 2016, I work as Associate Professor in Strategic Change Management at the Management Studies Group, Wageningen University (Netherlands), after holding an Assistant Professor position since 2011. Strategic change management focuses on the processes and mechanisms of change within organisations (e.g. companies, government agencies, NGOs, and partnerships) to adapt to changes in the environment. In 2012, I co-founded the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and leverage funds from Governments of Ecuador, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland and Australia for a total of 1.1 Million EUR. As lead of the GCFSI, our team now conducts collaborative research projects in five African countries (Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda), two South American countries (Brazil and Ecuador) and across multiple European countries that design, manage, bridge and evaluate multi-stakeholder partnerships stimulating systemic change and tackling wicked problems in food and agribusiness. As an outcome of this multidisciplinary research work, I have recently published in a wide range of agribusiness management, sustainability science and business ethics journals including Journal of Business Ethics, Food Policy, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Journal of Cleaner Production, Marine Policy, Agriculture and Human Values, Agribusiness and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review among the others.
Through the GCFSI, my vision is to contribute transforming academia, food and agriculture towards a much more fair, innovative, learning and thriving system through a entrepreneurial network of project partners, stakeholders in society and students through education and dissemination activities.
Shortly after holding a BSc degree, I worked under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development of Ethiopia for about 5 years. In 2011, I held a Master’s degree in agricultural economics from Haramaya University, Ethiopia and, lately, I joined Hawassa University where I served as Lecturer of Economics and researcher. In 2012, I joined Wageningen University and Research center (WUR) from where I held a Research Master Variant degree in Economics in 2014. Throughout my extensive research career, I have worked at national and international research institutes, such as International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI).
Currently, I am working as a “sandwich” PhD on a topic “Post-Harvest Factors Influencing Climate-Resilient Maize Seed Demand in Ethiopia”. I have got interest in this project because it provides me with an opportunity to contribute to the poverty reduction and food security goals of my country. As it is well known, poverty and food insecurity are the central challenges in Ethiopia despite the country’s immense agricultural potential. In particular, given its role in Ethiopia, it is important to enhance the contribution of maize to food security by increasing the productivity of the crop. Though there has been increasing trend in improved maize seed use, still a vast majority of famers use local seed and improved maize adoption is very low. Thus, it is important to assess what factors influence farmers’ demand for improved maize seed, focusing particularly (as my research does) on the post-harvest issues such storing, transporting, and marketing.
Even though I was born and raised in the largest city of Ecuador, I was always in contact with the countryside, peasant agriculture and rural life. As I started my studies in Agricultural and Livestock Engeneering, I was interested in production and agricultural modernization. Lately, I switched to access to technology, communication&knowledge, sustainability and other small farmers related problems. While I was attending a MSc. In Rural Development at Ghent University, I joined an exchange studies program at Wageningen University where I presented my thesis on the understanding of dynamics of innovation support services. I used the case study of public-supported and marked-oriented privatized service for small farmers in Chile.
I am currently working on my PhD research to investigate “The Impact of multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) on farmers’ innovation”. MSPs are virtual spaces where different stakeholders share information and build knowledge to take actions to solve common problems. MSPs facilitate the interaction and learning process guiding stakeholders through different levels of innovation. I lecture the course of Agricultural Extension at ESPOL University (Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral) in Ecuador, and my interest for Multi-stakeholder Platforms grew. It is fascinating to investigate how those participatory processes for interaction, across and beyond the value chain, are part of the evolutionary process of agricultural extensions. I also find interesting to explore the MSPs contribution to the consolidation of agricultural innovation systems, alongside to rural poverty, food security and sustainability.
Laureene Reeves Ndagire, PhD candidate (Uganda)
That while my academic background is not in agricultural research, I subscribe to being a small holder farmer, collaborating a knowledge sharing platform for young farmers, wakulima based in Uganda . I completed both my BA (Hons) and Master’s degree from Lancaster University Management School, in the Department of Organizations, Work and Technology. During which time I worked for General Electric in Marketing Controllership and as a research assistant on 2 EU FP7 projects on Ethics and Biometrics. In the following years, I held positions as Project Manager for the African Graduate Entrepreneurship Institute in Uganda, aimed at fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship and providing support to graduate entrepreneurs in Uganda. I carried out independent research in 5 East African countries (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania) on gender and entrepreneurship in agriculture, to understand how smallholders, especially women engage with food chains and the benefits of value chains in enabling them improve their livelihoods. This research revealed major constraints to smallholder women producers in accessing skills, information and markets, thereby limiting their share in the benefits of growth through agriculture. I worked with the Knowledge Management and Communications team at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation in Wageningen, a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and European Union (EU). This experience served to emphasize a belief in the role indigenous knowledge plays in a collaborative framework with value chain partners in the delivery of extension services.
The PhD ‘Governance of Multi stakeholders’ Platforms and their Effects on Farmers’ Entrepreneurship in Uganda’ is an exciting project aimed at engaging with major actors in establishing value chain innovation platforms at identified key sites in Uganda and Zambia. It is an opportunity to contribute to the current debate on how the governance of multi-stakeholder innovation platforms influences through network, institutional or policy change, small holder farmers’ and small businesses’ entrepreneurship along food supply chains.
As a young farmer networking with other young farmers across East Africa, I believe in the scope to identify opportunities for value chain development with farmer networks to strengthen regional trade, as well as achieve balanced improvement of key livelihood assets. Along with key partners at international and local level, the project will aim to identify enabling environments that support scalable establishment of effective and equitable innovation platforms that ultimately will enhance food security in the region by engaging smallholder farmers in a bottom up linear design of extension systems.
Pin Sevikul, MSc student
“Sharing” must be the action from both consumers and producers side and only by this way community can and will truly support the agriculture
For sometimes, I’ve realized that we are living in a world secretly manipulated by “an invisible mechanism”. Little did we know that our choices had been screened and pre-selected for us. The size and the influential impact of mass production in food chain are frightening. Then, by chance, I was introduced to the concept of sharing economy. The several examples of sharing economy, especially, collaborative consumption, and the incredibly good responses from all sectors are so promising that it convinced me that we can break through to traditional regime economy.
Community supported organization (CSA) – the collaboration that works. CSA, one of the most successful gardens in the Netherlands, is an alternative agricultural system in which customers have to pay in advanced, as a form of a long-term membership fee, to receive produces directly from the farm. From what I witnessed partecipating to their work, customer collaboration is not only possible but also functions incredibly well. Therefore, I had chosen CSA as my case study to investigate how orgnizational settings of collaborative consumption organization influences participated consumers. After six months, we received spectacular insights. First, the more the gardeners involve consumers in the decision making process of the garden, the more they will give suggestions, initiations and engaged with the work of the gardens. Moreover, additional requests, apart from the subscription fee and the volunteering programsm, enhance direct participation. When consumers were asked to work in the garden on voluntary basis, that seems to affectively engage them more tightly with the garden, resulted in stronger participation.
Hence, the secret I found from this thesis was NOT to treat CSA participants only as consumers but as active shareholders. Instead of simply growing vegetable for them, gardeners should share with them the right to influence the work of the garden. In addition, beside money, other consumer’s input such as knowledge should be used. Instead of presenting them the financial flow of the organization, gardeners should ask for their opinions on possible improvements. The knowledge and experience I acquired from doing this thesis made me understood that “sharing” must be the action from both sides and only by this way community can and will truly support agriculture.