DES MILLIERS DE MICRO-ENTREPRISES POUR TISSER LA TOILE D’UN DÉVELOPPEMENT ÉCONOMIQUE DURABLE
Dès le milieu des années 1980, Yvonnick Huet a contribué à faire émerger une approche de l’aide au développement qui réponde localement aux enjeux économiques, sociaux et environnementaux. Focalisant ses efforts sur le développement de TPE agricoles familiales et agro-écologiques, et sur la mise en place d’un environnement porteur, cette approche redonne un rôle économique aux plus pauvres, professionnalise et met en réseau des acteurs au niveau des territoires, forme des maîtres exploitants et renforce les capacités des organisations locales.
Lancé en 1992, Agrisud agit dans 25 pays, sur 4 continents. Impacts sociaux : 53 400 TPE agricoles familiales soutenues, soit 188 500 emplois durables créés et 504 000 personnes sorties de la pauvreté. Impacts économiques sur l’année 2016 : 83,2 millions d’euros/an de revenus nets générés, production de 330 000 tonnes de nourriture, sécurité alimentaire améliorée. Impacts environnementaux sur l’année 2016 : 26 500 tonnes/an de carbone séquestrées. De plus, Agrisud a un effet démultiplicateur par transfert auprès de 471 ONG locales. Aujourd’hui Agrisud compte 265 collaborateurs, dont 7 au siège.
QUI EST-IL ?
Yvonnick est né en Bretagne et suit des études d’agronomie, puis passe 7 ans dans l’humanitaire en Afrique. Il est le co-fondateur et directeur général d’Agrisud International. Marié, Yvonnick a 2 filles.
After ten years of on-the-ground experience, Yvonnick then scaled his work to other contexts that were also in need of market responses to economic crises. Throughout the 1990s he systematized his approach to build “green belts” in the surroundings of major cities in French-speaking Africa and Asia. Working hand-in-hand with grassroots organizations, ministers, and development agencies at both national and international levels, he facilitated a shift in mindset toward the support of small business. Empowering local stakeholders and encouraging the creation of national institutions on micro-entrepreneurship and agro-ecology, Yvonnick has built solid ecosystems that can ensure the sustainability and growth of his model. Now running programs in 13 countries in four continents, he has directly supported the creation of 27,500 small businesses with a great survival rate, generating 100,000 sustainable jobs and helping 250,000 people to escape poverty. Through Yvonnick’s network of “master-farmers” and trained organizations that disseminate his model, he estimates that he generates a multiplier effect ratio of 12.
Recognizing the limitation of their networks and on-the-ground expertise, international donors and private companies are more willing than ever to invest in long-term solutions and propose an integrated approach. As the French Agency of Development (AFD) explained, financial institutions are very demanding of approaches such as Agrisud’s. To solve the accelerating challenges of poverty and the food crisis, as well as specific issues of disadvantaged groups such as women or young people, it is critical that there is an increase in the number of actors who work to rebuild the microeconomic fabric and thus foster long-term economic development.
Yvonnick recognizes the great potential of his problem solving model within contexts beset with natural catastrophes, political instability, and food crises. Since 1993, Yvonnick has been applying his approach to many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Determined to avoid reliance on Agrisud, he has encouraged the emergence of powerful local networks to support small businesses in their development. Yvonnick emphasizes the creation of national structures affiliated with Agrisud to ensure the sustainability of the model. When a gap exists in the local institutional setting, Agrisud fills this gap through initiating new activities to fill it. In Gabon for instance, the Gabonese Institute of Development, a national non-profit entity to foster the agro-ecology field across the country, was created by Agrisud (1992) and has been playing a key role in structuring the local farming markets ever since. In addition, by constantly increasing the number of business-minded farmers, Yvonnick’s ground approach lies in building the capacity of “master-farmers”—trained and experienced farmers supported by Agrisud—to disseminate the know-how in local area networks. This strategy is proving a tremendous impact: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2,000 farmers were supported directly by Agrisud, but through the network effect of master-farmers, 25,000 farmers have been effectively trained. With master-farmers in thirteen countries, there is great potential for this self-fuelled process.
Responding to a high demand, Yvonnick has created tools to formalize and deploy the way Agrisud impacts markets. His expertise is so recognized today that he is routinely consulted by local actors and international donors. This proactive approach allows Agrisud to apply its own project without the interfering agenda of international donors. It also accrues roughly €5 million (US$6.5 million) in funding each year from local ministries as well as French and European development agencies to launch and sustain programs. To impact markets on a permanent basis, Yvonnick is building strategic alliances with key partners in new countries and new sectors: CIRAD for horticulture, French Senior Fellow Pierre Rabhi’s Terre et Humanisme for agroecology, and AFD for French development assistance. Yvonnick’s methodological approach has enabled him to scale widely in various contexts. Constantly acting on new opportunities, he is currently launching a project in France with the Food Bank to support unemployed women in creating small businesses around wasted fruits and vegetable recycling. Finally, to further multiply Agrisud’s impact beyond its own development capacity, Yvonnick has developed two Learning Cycles to train COs and institutions in order to spread his tools. The ninety COs trained so far are transforming their practices while reaching new in-need populations and integrating a systemic economic approach to respond to developing countries challenges.
Yvonnick recognizes that to reduce poverty and increase food security, individuals and communities need functioning, local markets and that to help create and sustain these local markets it is critical to shift the mindset of individuals so that they view themselves as active and engaged participants in a supply-chain for the market. He recognized that a key part of this was changing the relationship between the individual farmers and the other actors in the local markets. Yvonnick brings together groups of individuals to overcome barriers to entering the market (e.g. transportation costs, the need to have a certain amount or volume of food, and physical space constraints in the actual marketplace where goods are sold); and then he works to create an enabling environment for the farmers to succeed and last over time. Activities that help him achieve this include, training in negotiating skills, training local organizations to provide business advice, and enlisting local institutions to provide small amounts of credit to the collective.
Yvonnick has become a reference and architect of the field. He can now share broadly his expertise and know-how through apprenticeship cycles. Yvonnick keeps innovating to apply his model to various contexts to help people reduce hardship by becoming successful micro entrepreneurs. In Cambodia, Niger, Haiti, Angola, or Sri Lanka, in contexts of social and humanitarian crisis, thousands of refugees have crafted a social and economic role in society by launching their own small businesses. More recently, Yvonnick has begun to apply his approach in France by supporting long-term unemployed women who need an integrated and entrepreneurial solution to improve their condition.
Yvonnick capitalized on every failure and success of the Agricongo project to improve his approach step by step. An ambitious and structured personality, he wanted to develop the project and thus imagined a new organization able to bear the development of his model. In 1992 he created Agrisud, the international manifestation of Agricongo, and launched in Gabon and Cambodia. Meanwhile, Yvonnick stayed in the Congo with his wife and two daughters, also managing the national project and international development. He stayed even during the civil war, to eventually return to France in 1995 to coordinate the Agrisud network from there. Yvonnick’s vision of international development has allowed Agrisud International to increase its presence four-fold in new countries in ten years. Aware of the challenges presented by such an extended network, he has redeveloped his team to be more efficient, while always attentive as a manager to inform and work with every local team to understand the importance of Agrisud.
Positioning Agrisud as a master-farmer transferring its know-how, Yvonnick intervenes as an expert to the PNUD and the EU. Interested to share its experience, he also gives lectures on sustainable development in schools and universities in France. In 2009 Yvonnick co-founded with Be-linked the Business and Poverty Association at HEC Business School. Always assessing solutions and formalizing tools, he is now working on an extended social measurement based on a pilot SROI study realized in partnership with Planète d’Entrepreneurs. He remains modest, in spite of being made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and enjoys his life in West of France with his wife and daughters. Still impassioned with Africa and by the field, Yvonnick continues to travel there and to other continents to launch new projects, create new partnerships, and invent new models for development, while preserving his core vision of full economic citizenship for people around the world.