iDE Global
← Mozambique

Harnessing Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Resilience

A market systems approach to inclusive entrepreneurship in rural communities with a focus on women and youth

After multiple shocks, including a series of cyclones, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the first recession in almost three decades, Mozambique’s economy is slowly recovering but with considerable uncertainty. The World Bank says GDP growth reached 4.2 percent in 2022, as favorable weather conditions supported agricultural growth, and the gradual lifting of containment measures boosted private consumption. Agriculture remains the country’s main economic activity and, with appropriate support, could be a sustainable source of growth, food security and reductions in poverty, which stands at 61 percent, according to UNDP. Despite its potential, agricultural productivity remains low by regional standards, with Mozambique having one of the lowest cereal yields per hectare. The country's vulnerability is further compounded by excessive dependence on domestic food imports which has left the country more susceptible to global price fluctuations stemming from the pandemic, wars and political instability. 

21 9 Moz Hero Project Summary2

In response, iDE is implementing its largest global operation in Mozambique with funded projects totaling more than US$50 million. By recently establishing a range of innovative agricultural, water,  entrepreneurship and alternative livelihood projects across the country, iDE is working to lift tens of thousands of people out of poverty. Specifically, our interventions are aimed at catalyzing growth and building commercial relationships in rural markets, incentivizing low income people to establish locally-led, scalable business solutions that deliver goods and services to “last mile” customers. We do this by building networks of small scale entrepreneurs who create “resilient market ecosystems’’, boosting the incomes of marginalized people. iDE Mozambique’s efforts have successfully assisted farmers and entrepreneurs living in Maputo, Gaza, Sofala, Manica, Nampula, Zambézia, and Cabo Delgado provinces, to build lasting resilience against environmental, public health and socio-political shocks.

iDE Mozambique Highlights To Date:

  • 466,290 Individuals Impacted
  • 78,728 Households Impacted
  • $240 Annual Income Increased in US dollars
  • $1:1 Social Return on Investment*

*Our Social Return on Investment is the ratio of income generated by households per dollar deployed by iDE (calculated on a 3-year rolling average).



iDE has held 81 input technology trade fairs (ITTFs) to reinvigorate income generation efforts of farmers and private sector actors since cyclone Idai struck in 2019. More than 112,000 farmers have attended the fairs since 2019 and purchased agricultural inputs and tools. ITTFs are held during the main planting season and once again in the cool season when farmers plant vegetables. ITTFs have built lasting relationships between farmers and input suppliers and injected more than US$4 million into the local economy.


iDE has established 685 “Escolas em campo para agricultores” (ECPA) –  farmer field schools – designed to improve rural livelihoods by improving productivity, profitability and resilience, and helping turn farms into businesses. Most of the ECPAs targeted farmers also attended the ITTFs. Powering farmers to become resilient to climate change is at the heart of iDE Mozambique’s work. As iDE leverages market ecosystems to boost agricultural productivity, farmers are helped to diversify revenue streams and adapt to changing weather patterns through training at demonstration plots. They are trained to grow improved and climate-change resistant crops, adopt good and regenerative agricultural practices and use organic forms of production. A total of 685 lead farmers have been trained to formally share knowledge with neighboring farmers. Farmers see their peers succeeding and then adopt the same practices. 


iDE has built a network of more than 300 farm business advisors (FBAs) who perform a range of functions including working as commercial producers, supplying agricultural inputs, and acting as aggregators by buying produce from farmers in bulk and on-selling it. FBAs have supported 48,0000 smallholder farmers, building trust and providing them with technical support on issues such as controlling pests and diseases, applying nutrients and minimizing post-harvest loss. FBAs are trained by iDE to run their operations as businesses, learning how to track their spending and earnings, and nurturing and growing local demand for their products and services.


iDE designs appropriate multiple use water systems (MUS) solutions and management models, pilots MUS with partial grants matched with community and local investment, and builds capacity of private sector, government, and communities to continue to scale MUS solutions. Additionally, in certain locations of Mozambique iDE facilitates solar powered irrigation solutions uptake by end users, for productive use. iDE provides information, education and communication (IEC) training in irrigation and agroecology, in partnership with SPIS private sector suppliers. iDE will continue to expand its work in WASH in Mozambique.


As iDE leverages market ecosystems to boost agricultural productivity, farmers are helped to adapt to changing weather patterns. iDE promotes the use of affordable technological solutions such as polytunnels, shades and drip irrigation systems for year-round horticulture production. These technologies are demonstrated at the nuclei for technology transfer (NTTs) which are commercial entities supported by iDE to have the ability to supply year-round quality horticulture products to wider markets, but at the same time serve as technology ‘demonstration for adoption’ spots for surrounding farmers, particularly youth. 


iDE has linked 1,500 low income clients to American nonprofit KIVA which provides low interest loans for agricultural technologies, inputs and assets, strengthening and expanding client agribusinesses. KIVA loans serve as an alternative financing method for farmers in remote areas who face challenges accessing formal credit due to high interest rates and stringent eligibility criteria. A total of US$1.65 million has been loaned to clients, who have received US$2,750 on average. To date, 62 percent of our clients are women. Farmers who access the loans are trained on financial decisions-making, business planning and credit management.


iDE works to uncover beliefs and practices that perpetuate inequality and use the acquired knowledge to design social and behavioral change programming that promotes the creation of market ecosystems, which benefit all people. iDE employs the "farming as a family business" approach providing business management training to farmers and rural entrepreneurs, including their spouses, with a focus on identifying and overcoming obstacles to successful family businesses. Gender and social inclusion specialists train rural counselors and mentors to provide support to households that have experienced different forms of trauma caused by natural disasters and political instability. iDE also challenges harmful stereotypes that limit women's participation in economic activities and takes a market-based approach to development, treating women as independent market participants rather than vulnerable populations.


To assist local farmers to find affordable, local solutions to challenges posed by pests and diseases that attack their crops, iDE is working to build an ethnobotanical library of natural pesticides. The idea is to preserve and promote centuries of indigenous wisdom surrounding medicinal plants that are found in Mozambique as a way to develop effective, organic pesticides that are cost-effective, locally available and environmentally friendly. iDE is building the library by engaging local communities in participatory research, identifying endemic plants that can be used as ingredients for natural pesticides. Farmers have been enthusiastic about the work as they are aware that using local plants to make pesticides extends beyond financial gains and is good for their own health and the health of the natural environment.

3 2 Moz Project Summary Indigenous Plan Knowledge Field Activity Artifact



Location: Coastal region between Pemba and Maganja da Costa
Value: US$25 million
Donor: USAID
Timeline: 4.5 years
Target: 70,000 households
Main interventions: Job creation, economic development, protection of marine environments
Implementing Partners: RARE, h2n, and Terra Firma

Along a 730 km stretch of coastline in northern Mozambique, where farming and fishing are interdependent livelihood strategies for most families, RCC is working to improve agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change resilience. Fragile land and marine ecosystems in this area regularly face climatic shocks such as cyclones and drought. Overfishing and land degradation are symptoms of the widespread food insecurity facing these communities. RCC is piloting innovative entrepreneurial approaches to improve the livelihoods of low income people across the region while also safeguarding biodiversity and sensitive ecosystems. Working with the public and private sectors and civil society, the activity is focused on industries such as shellfishing, coconut farming, chicken farming, bee keeping, and cashew nut farming that could support a significant number of jobs and sustainable economic opportunities for youth and women, while positively impacting the long-term health and productivity of critical ecosystems, particularly marine ecosystems, vital to food security.

Women divers are role models for economic empowerment

The Island of Mozambique, south of Nacala, was placed on the UN’s World Heritage list because of its beauty and 500 year history as a Portuguese fort. But tourists coming to see the picturesque architecture of the former trading post might also see another unique sight: local women wearing diving masks, surrounded by piles of shells.


Some women on the island supplement their incomes by diving for sea shells. While fishing from boats here is primarily done by men, women dominate the local shellfish gathering industry, holding their breaths while diving down to the ocean floor. Nearly 80 percent of women surveyed say the lack of job opportunities and professional training on Mozambique’s northern coastline contributed to their reliance on diving. 

3 2 Moz Project Summary Rcc Women Divers 2

Under the RCC project, iDE conducted the survey to understand the cultural and economic significance of shellfish gathering. iDE is now focused on amplifying the voices of the women who are stewards of local marine resources and role models for women’s economic empowerment in their community.


Location: Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces
Value: US$5.4 million
Donor: Royal Embassy of Norway
Timeline: 3 years
Target: 7,000 households
Main interventions: ITTFs, FBAs, Farmer Field Schools, NTTs
Strategic Partners: Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) 

Promoting Market Adaptations and Resilient Ecosystems (Pro-MARE) aims to increase the resilience of rural families — particularly women, youth, and other marginalized groups — who are disproportionately affected by political instability and climate change. Under Pro-MARE, iDE is working with entrepreneurs to bridge the humanitarian and development nexus, developing socio-economic opportunities. We are working to increase the incomes and assets of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities by involving them in value chains and improving access and use of climate-smart technologies and nutrition-sensitive agriculture, mitigating food security risks.

The latest: Results from resilience survey of households and markets 

Using iDE’s Market System Resilience Index (MSRI), which enables us to measure the strengths and weaknesses of relationships among participants within a market system. iDE staff are adapting programming to the prevailing circumstances after an MSRI survey in the Pro-MARE target areas found the following:

  • Overall resilience levels in Nampula and Cabo Delgado are low compared to resilience levels found in the Beira corridor, further south.

  • Households in Cabo Delgado scored higher in resilience than those in Nampula despite conflict in the area.

  • IDPs scored lower than host communities across every determinant, except “collaboration.” (Collaboration among actors of the market system.)

  • Input suppliers and retailers scored higher than households and iDPs, and have similar levels of resilience despite having different business sizes and models.

  • Output market actors scored less than households.

  • Market actors struggle with accessing financial resources and diverse markets.

  • Households struggle with market integration (different groups’ involvement in relevant processes) and collaboration.


Location: Cabo Delgado province
Value: $8.1 million
Donor: USAID
Timeline: 2 years
Target: 9,808 individual farmers
Main interventions: ITTFs, FBAs, Farmer Field Schools, Cash For Training Pilot

Cabo Delgado has been severely impacted by cyclones and outbreaks of conflict. Internally displaced persons are concentrating in the southern districts in search of greater security and humanitarian assistance. However, host communities themselves are deeply mired in poverty and struggle to cope during the best of times. iDE’s activities here are increasing the resilience of individual farmers — particularly women, youth, and other marginalized groups — disproportionately affected by political instability and climate change. Farmer resilience is being strengthened through voucher-based input fairs, farmer field schools and through the establishment of a network of rural entrepreneurs or farm business advisors (FBAs). 

The latest: Cash-for-training pilot project launched

Under a pilot program, 350 participants in farmer field schools in Mecufi district are receiving periodic cash transfers throughout the agricultural season to match on-farm investment priorities and needs. Some 3,000 meticais (US$47) is provided to farmers after they complete each of six agricultural courses taught at the schools. The farmers are also linked directly to input markets through market days and rural entrepreneurs. And they are provided with advice on soil fertility, soil moisture control, and combating pests and diseases. At the same time, lead farmers from the schools are provided technical assistance at their farms with the support of digital assessment tools. iDE collects data from individual farms on adoption, yields and satisfaction.


Location: Gaza province
Value: US$3.9 million
Donor: USAID
Timeline: 3 years
Target: 5,503
Main interventions: ITTFs, FBAs, Farmer Field Schools

Expanding its response to cyclones and flooding, iDE is working to foster the resilience of smallholder farmers by building the capacity of rural entrepreneurs—particularly women and youth— in Gaza province. The effort is increasing competitiveness of smallholder farmers and small commercial farmers involved in agricultural value chains, including cash and food crops. The work is also improving access and use of technology including seeds and irrigation, in addition to increasing knowledge of climate-smart agricultural practices and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. 

The latest: Lessons learned from field research of households

Research by iDE field staff found that incomes are low here with most people living below the poverty line. Some 76 percent of households reported not being able to meet their family’s food needs in the past 12 months partly due to low agricultural production. Only 13 percent of food grown by households is sold, with the rest consumed by family members. In response, iDE is linking households to FBAs, increasing access to agricultural input and output markets, and providing advice on improved farming practices. Moreover, iDE is encouraging farmers to grow more pumpkin as a way to improve dietary diversity and improve nutritional status among the target population.


Location: Manica, Zambezia provinces
Value: US$2 million
Timeline: 1.5 years
Target: 900+ Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS); 1,000 farmers
Main interventions: Installation of SPIS, FBAs, NTTs, Farmer Field Schools

RERD2+ is boosting rural economic and social development by providing increased access to energy through public and private investment in renewable energy systems, along with support mechanisms to ensure sustainability. The RERD2+ leverages existing FBA and FFS networks to promote and distribute solar powered irrigation solutions (SPIS)  in collaboration with private sector suppliers. Established networks of commercial actors are enabling farmers to access SPIS by using the existing infrastructure and market relationships, reducing operational costs for distributors to reach the last mile. NTTs (nuclei for technology transfer) entities can also host demonstrations where farmers can use and test the SPIS, which will result in creating new demand for the product. FFSs are established to train farmers in agro-ecology and climate smart techniques, in collaboration with the local government in Manica.

The latest: 250 farmers interested in acquiring solar irrigation

iDE published the opportunity to facilitate the acquisition of SPIS by semi-commercial and commercial farmers. iDE is working closely with government extension technicians who were trained to support interested farmers. So far, about 250 farmers said they wanted to acquire  the systems from selected supply companies in six selected districts in the center of Mozambique. The companies will provide the systems, install them and train technicians and owners on the use and maintenance of the systems. iDE will further provide training to beneficiaries through NTTs and FFSs. A local SPIS components distribution and servicing network will be established with support from iDE.


Lead Implementer: ACDI/VOCA
Location: Nampula, Zambezia provinces
Value: US$5.7 million (iDE sub agreement)
Donor: USAID
Timeline: 5 years
Main interventions: Providing assistance to improve farmer resilience, food security, and innovative water solutions.
Implementing Partners: iDE, IdeaLab

The Feed the Future Mozambique Resiliência Integrada na Nutrição e Agricultura (FTF RESINA) Activity, funded by USAID, is increasing the resilience of smallholder farmers and rural households by implementing a farmer-centered local food systems approach that integrates climate change adaptation capacities focusing on innovative solutions towards food security, productive use of natural resources, including affordable water solutions, and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. 

iDE’s role in the project focuses on finding innovative and sustainable solutions to the problems people face regarding water usage and management for domestic and agriculture purposes. We used human-centered design methodology to acquire a deeper and broader understanding of households, farmers, market actors, their environments, and their businesses.

The latest: Findings from human-centered design sprint

  • Presence of existing savings practices for priority expenses (bicycles, radios, motorcycles) can be leveraged for a water solution.

  • The government hires companies and entrepreneurs to manage water systems for towns/locality centers providing an opportunity to extend this approach to rural water point/system maintenance.

  • Healthcare facilities and schools are a priority for water access, which can be leveraged to incentivize investment and involvement from community members.

  • Women are more committed than men to improving their household’s water situation and want to have a more active role in decision-making.

  • A practice of paying other people to fetch water was observed as a business opportunity