Partners for Advancing Agriculture ®

Agribusiness Consulting Proves Right Fit for Outscaling Technology and Grant Management

Summer 2018



Agricultural development donors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation expect from grantees rigorous reporting and accountability to ensure proper allocation of funds. Context Global Development (CGD) works closely with grantees and integr
ates into multi-partner programs to coordinate activities that achieve targeted outcomes.

From left to right: CGD Senior Program Manager Jason Nickerson, YIIFSWteam-perspective-topA-II Project Leader Dr. Norbert Maroya, and Sahel Capital Consultant Temi Adegoroye display high-yielding seed yam tubers propagated using aeroponics system for rapid multiplication of improved, disease-free plantlets.



Each year, agricultural development donors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fund grants and programs focused on providing low-income people with the tools to lead healthy, productive lives and thus lift themselves out of poverty. Portions of this funding focus on sub-Saharan Africa to stimulate sustainable increase in incomes for smallholder farmers and contribute to their food security and economic development.

The Gates Foundation has ambitious goals to catalyze development in African agriculture, and to meet these goals, they build multi-stakeholder partnerships to address complex challenges throughout crop value chains. Third-party, independent consultants are frequently contracted to coordinate program activities, provide business and financial advisory services, and maintain compliance requirements.

Side-by-side Participation

As an independent, non-profit organization founded in 2017 by Context Network, Context Global Development (CGD) has quickly proven itself an able and adept partner to donors and program managers alike. Context formed CGD to be an implementation partner on programs that seek to outscale commercially sustainable technologies to overcome value chain bottlenecks and demand constraints.

In its first year, CGD was selected by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Potato Center (CIP) to provide advisory, organizational, and management support and financial analysis for two recent Gates-funded grants (see accompanying articles, Yams – West Africa’s Corner on the Market and Quality Cassava Begins with Improved Seed). “For their grants, the Gates Foundation requires a rigorous amount of oversight, communication, and accountability to assure that funds are being properly purposed and that projects are progressing toward stated goals,” says Will Rogers, CGD’s Africa lead based in Accra, Ghana. “We’ve worked closely with IITA and CIP to be a fully informed participant and to help coordinate the activities needed to move the grants forward.”

Making Hard Decisions

The ability to make unbiased, objective recommendations is often at the heart of CGD’s work. For the IITA YIIFSWA-II grant, one of the benchmarks established by the Gates Foundation was to engage local seed companies to produce yam foundation seed. Working together with Sahel Capital (a Nigeria-based consulting firm focused on unlocking the potential of agriculture and nutrition in West Africa), CGD selected 15 seed companies for consideration. These companies’ managerial background and experience, financial positions, and physical capabilities were vetted, and three companies were selected and presented to IITA for the project.

“As an independent agricultural development consultant, CGD has the commercial and development expertise to provide objective decisions needed to implement a grant,” Rogers says. “We share the grant’s vision and support grantees with objective analysis. That is the value of an effective agricultural development consultant.”


“Working closely with grantees, Context Global Development teams seamlessly embed as advisors, trainers, or managers into the core business operations of public-private partnerships.”


– Managing Director Mark Nelson of Context Global Development

Talking the Talk

As the independent “sister” organization to Context Network, CGD taps into its 25 years of experience providing services to agriculture, biotechnology, and food companies and to government entities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Accordingly, CGD can truly speak the language of the private-sector parties that are central to maximizing societal impact in implementation of agricultural development programs around the world.

CGD Managing DirectorMark Nelson describes how this common vernacular has impacted the YIIFSWA-II project: “CGD teams seamlessly embed as advisors, trainers, and managers into the core business operations of IITA with a shared vision to harness our commercial and development expertise to maximize the value of agricultural resources in Nigeria and Ghana. In doing so, we intend to catalyze public-private partnerships that result in meaningful and lasting change by outscaling breakthrough technologies that improve the access to improved inputs for smallholder yam farmers in West Africa.”

To learn more about Context Global Development’s work in Africa, please contact Mark Nelson, Managing Director at

The Context Network is the world’s premier business management and strategy consulting firm providing services to agriculture, biotechnology, and food companies, and to government entities and NGOs.

Context Global Development (CGD) is a non-profit organization that leads agricultural and social impact programs worldwide. CGD teams with development organizations and government agencies to maximize the value of agricultural resources in developing countries as they partner to accelerate innovations that result in meaningful and lasting change.