2021 ANNUAL REPORT

Global 2021

In the inaugural year of our 2021-2025 strategic plan, we took meaningful strides towards our vision of more fair and sustainable supply chains, and drew on our strength as a network organization to learn, adapt, and grow with our global knowledge base. We focused heavily on nurturing strong internal systems and learning, and weaved in elements of digital innovation and technology, gender and social inclusion, and food systems to our work around the world, reaching more than 1.2 million small producers and workers.

Growing impact

In Asia, the team engaged farmers and workers through digital outreach and market access. We continued to strive for policies that support farmer welfare by establishing National Frameworks in soy and medicinal and aromatic plants in India and cotton in China. A multi-country scientific publication on the role of palm oil in national development was unveiled in Sri Lanka. In the face of disruptions caused by the pandemic, reaching over 170,000 additional farmers in 2021 (overall 620,000) was a testament of translating intent to action.

Delivering results

Despite facing multiple challenges affecting both the global and regional contexts this year, we delivered significant results in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, by leveraging digital tools, our work with stakeholder platforms and our regional integrated landscape management strategy, MESA – Accelerating Living Landscapes in Mesoamerica.

Transformative change

In 2021, Solidaridad East and Central Africa sustained implementation of transformative solutions. Alongside our communities and partners, we championed producer-led initiatives to improve production, food and nutrition security, incomes, and working conditions outcomes, while enhancing producers’ resilience to the effects of climate change.

Working towards systemic change

Solidaridad Europe’s main goal is to make European market actors pay for sustainability. In 2021, we contributed to this goal by supporting producer inclusive European legislation, establishing corporate engagement and partnerships, activating citizens to raise their voices, and supporting the entire Solidaridad network in fundraising and learning.

Participation and collaboration

In 2021, Solidaridad continued to grow by leaps and bounds in North America, solidifying important partnerships and growing visibility through participation in relevant events and media opportunities. Through collaboration with global colleagues and a deep understanding of donor perspectives and needs, Solidaridad was able to make significant progress on its 2021-2025 strategic plan.

Creating new opportunities

Solidaridad and its partners demonstrated in 2021 the feasibility and profitability of low carbon farming in key commodities. Productive restoration with agroforestry models brought smallholder producers to the front row. The model has attracted new investors to scale up the results achieved, rewarding them for protecting our forests.

Moving towards our vision

In 2021 we continued with our holistic approach that supports smallholder farmers through every step of the value chain. With more farmers trained in climate-smart practices, and greater resources on the market and policy level, we’re moving closer to our vision of a fair and sustainable supply chain.

Hitting targets

In 2021, we trained 103,472 producers and workers in West Africa to improve their production practices, out of which 36,973 are producing sustainably on 71,153 hectares of land. This includes 14,356 cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire who have integrated good agricultural and climate-smart practices in their production processes. Additionally, 17,358 farmers improved their income after applying the knowledge they received through training.

Executive Summary

Reflection

The new strategy sets sail

Innovation and energy were the driving forces behind Solidaridad’s work in 2021. The ongoing turbulence of the pandemic and other disruptions didn’t hold us back from hitting important targets and laying the foundation for greater impact and reach in the years to come.

​​2021 was another year of challenges and another year of tremendous achievements. I am once again amazed at the perseverance and dedication of the smallholder producers that we work with around the globe. And my heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Solidaridad staff: a diverse and multicultural team of talented professionals, full of ambition, and reflecting the strength of our network.

Within all this diversity, there is so much that binds us together. We have one shared agenda, strategy and branding. With strong interconnectedness we achieve results, learn and progress. We are connected in our values, deeply rooted in our DNA: solidarity, solutions-orientedness, impact-driven, interdependence, innovation, inclusivity, and integrity. These values are the foundation of our work and have undoubtedly contributed to our impressive results over 2021.

As we take stock of the progress and milestones from this past year, we can be certain that we’re on the right path towards the bold impact outlined in our 2021-2025 multi-annual strategic plan, our vision of a more fair and sustainable supply chain, and an economy that works for all.

The world is rapidly changing around us. Through the confluence of a high-stakes geopolitical environment, our collective social and economic whiplash from the Covid pandemic, further acceleration of climate change and related pressure on the environment, we are unquestionably entering a new era. Whether this new era is one of enlightenment and positive transformation relies on the full inclusion of voices from every sphere, and collaboration across the borders of nationality, sector, and institution.

At Solidaridad, we are committed to playing our part in breaking down barriers and amplifying voices that have been historically excluded and underrepresented. At the heart of our global economy are the small producers – the smallholder farmers, artisanal miners, factory workers and small-scale entrepreneurs. Achieving sustainability on a global level utterly depends on the full inclusion and participation of these producers to build their businesses, support their families, strengthen their communities and claim their dues in the global economy.

Looking within

The speed of disruptive change in our society is a demanding challenge for any organization. Accelerated climate change, two years of Covid, followed by major global disruptions since the Ukraine crisis can create a sense of disintegration, motivational problems and invisibility. And, it creates a sense of urgency. The need for sustainability and fairness only grows more acute with each new change. In 2021, we pulled together as a network to harness our shared desire to ‘be the change we wish to see.’

We continued to offer support to team members around the globe grappling with ongoing Covid-related disruptions through flexible working environments, adjustments to travel and project timelines as required, and more. And, we worked hard to foster our sense of interconnectedness as a network. Many Town Halls were organized and with the introduction of smarter information dashboards, we took another important step towards engaging a data-driven and continuous learning dialogue with all Solidaridad regions. The information dashboards are based on aggregated network data on finance, human resource development, fundraising pipeline management, impact measurement and communication achievements. Both for interconnectedness and for learning, insights and actions based on management information are important to guide the network towards achieving the ambitions set in our multi-annual strategy.

Solidaridad Network is one organization, one brand, with one vision and strategy. Its strength is its commitment to locally grown and relevant leadership and expertise, and a shared culture of global sharing and collaboration. This concept of ‘glocality’ – global policy setting linking regional programming to sectoral and structural changes in the world economy – is the foundation of the transformative power of our network organization.

What we achieved

In 2021 we saw our multi-annual strategic plan set sail at a rapid clip. Although disruptions and challenges remained, we, like much of the world, had learned to adapt to and navigate these turbulent times. With continued partnership and support from longtime champions of our cause, and the addition of new partners and relationships, we were able to achieve crucial milestones around the world. 

When monitoring and reporting our results we distinguish according to our scope of influence: 1) outputs where Solidaridad has direct influence on the results and outcome level, where we monitor the effect of those results on the stakeholders we work with. And 2) we also monitor indirect results where we have contributed but cannot claim sole responsibility for the change.

The training and support provided by Solidaridad to over 1.2 million farmers, more than 736,000 workers, along with processors, governments and companies has translated to real improvements on the ground. A whopping 2.6 million hectares have been brought under sustainable management, 27.7m tCo2e has been sequestered, and 629,000 farmers saw improved yields and income. 

Our work in advocacy and market uptake also grew, with 9 new or improved mandatory sustainable frameworks put in place and 181 corporate partners testing solutions with us. We trained or supported 132 CSOs to participate in dialogues, and supported 436 processors and mines to improve their practices. We have also provided recommendations and influenced 75 private and public policies on sustainable consumption, production and trade. We trained and supported 132 civil society groups to enhance their involvement in decision-making.

And this is just the highest level look at the work we completed in 2021. Within each region are compelling stories of change, innovation, and hard work being accomplished. As you sift through the results and stories of impact, you will see the threads of gender and social inclusion, digital solutions, climate-smart practices, and food security running throughout. One year into our multi-annual strategic plan, the pace has been set for transformative change and we are steps closer to an economy that works for all.

The Solidaridad Network is registered as a foundation at the Chamber of Commerce in Utrecht, the Netherlands, under the number 51756811.

Solidaridad
Network Secretariat
‘t Goylaan 15
Utrecht 3525 AA
The Netherlands

Tel.: +31 (0)30 275 94 50
Email: info@solidaridadnetwork.org

Let Solidaridad’s Executive Director Jeroen Douglas take you through the annual report

Most significant changes

A bright future for Kenyan Coffee

Gibson Kinyua and Faith Wambui are a husband and wife team with more than 20 years of experience farming coffee in Nyeri, Kenya. Joining Solidaridad’s ‘Food Security through Improved Resilience of Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya’ (FOSEK) has transformed their farming operation.

Forging an enabling policy environment in Central America

Once early innovators have demonstrated the benefits of sustainable practices, others are more likely to jump on board. For this reason, at Solidaridad, it’s important for us to find local actors who will partner with us to test solutions and new technologies. Then, together, we create the blueprints that others can use to implement sustainable solutions. 

Medicinal and aromatic plants in India

The importance of medicinal plants and derivatives is growing rapidly with human progress in pharmaceutical fields. The demand for medicinal herbs is increasing thanks in part to a reputation for fewer side effects. They are also considered to be a cost-effective means of developing new and breakthrough drugs.

‘Seeing is doing’ – How Nigerian smallholder farmers are living this reality

In Nigeria, smallholder fruits and vegetable farmers are adapting climate-smart agricultural practices following weeks of observations in field demonstration farms. So far, 242 demonstration farms have been established to support farmers in different communities under the Sustainable Development Goal Project 1.

João Evangelista and the best cocoa in the world

Hailing from a small community in Brazil, João Evangelista entered the 2021 edition of the Cocoa of Excellence competition and ranked among the world’s best 50 bean samples. His cocoa, grown in agroforestry systems in addition to its optimal quality, contributes in restoring the Amazon.

Smallholder-inclusive regulations

The European Commission’s proposal on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD) finally mandated that businesses respect human rights and the environment. Solidaridad worked out the conditions to make it work.

Agriculture is more than just cows & ploughs

As a result of solidaridad interventions which consist of access to certified seeds, inoculants and soil tests, the average productivity of soybeans in Zambia has been consistently increasing from 500kg per hectare in 2018 to 1120kg per hectare in 2021. The annual growth rate of this cash crop highlights the high potential for smallholder farmers to benefit from soybean production to support sustainable livelihoods.

Organization & Governance

An interconnected network

Focus on inclusivity and integrity

In 2021, Solidaridad invested significantly in its global HR policies, particularly to maintain high levels of integrity and inclusivity. Integrity advisors were appointed in each region, an elaborate employee survey was carried out and more standardized HR policies for recruitment, job grading and promotion were set up.

More information about our staff, management and supervision can be found here.

We employed 1059 staff on the 31st of December of 2021, filling a total of 946 FTE. This is an increase compared to 2020 when we employed 985 staff. The gender balance of our staff slightly improved from 34% to 37% female. The overall population remains quite diverse. Both our international supervisory board and our executive board have a 50/50 ratio in gender and are dominated by representatives from the global south. 
More information about our staff, management and supervision can be found here.

There is a dedicated global Integrity team in Solidaridad with integrity advisors and Persons of Trust in each region. In 2021, the team created an action plan to develop and improve the global integrity system.  

The global team is skilled and trained to manage and improve the integrity system, to manage concerns raised and formal reports received and to discuss ethical dilemmas.All training material is made available for staff to tailor to local needs and use.

Appointed Integrity Advisors and Persons of Trust jointly developed a global strategy for Integrity and developed and shared communication material to build awareness and understanding of our integrity system.

In addition, a staff survey was developed, with internal stakeholders from all regions and with external research expertise warranting anonymity of respondents. This survey was issued in December 2021, with analysis taking place in 2022.

The Solidaridad Code of Conduct and the Whistleblower Protocol form the heart of the integrity system to prevent, monitor, report and account for integrity. A Partner Code is included in the contracts. Procedures that ensure a satisfactory response to a complaint and guide an investigation into a report are in place. Solidaridad has zero tolerance for not acting. Solidaridad will vigorously pursue disciplinary or any other actions necessary against perpetrators of any inappropriate behavior.

In the year 2021 seven cases were reported: three in South Africa of which one was assessed to be a breach of the Code of Conduct, one in Asia, one in South America, and one in East Africa were reported related to trust and/or integrity issues. The cases were handled in accordance with Solidaridad’s internal code of conduct and organizational policies. Apart from the one in East Africa for which investigations are still ongoing, the cases were thoroughly  investigated, discussed and resolved with appropriate measures up to the dismissal of one staff member. 

We have learnt our integrity system is working with the increase in the number of formal reports, not just from staff members but also community members we work with. Persons of Trust also report back in general terms about the concerns raised providing valuable feedback on our integrity system and working culture of Solidaridad. Trust and confidentiality are key. As a global network organization, contextualisation of the Code of Conduct enriches our culture upholding integrity.    

More information about our risk and control measures can be found here. 

As per 31 December 2022, the distribution of male and female workers across the network is 63% male and 37% female. We are executing a specific strategy to get this more in balance and particularly to get more women in leadership positions. 

We have also paid attention to equal pay. In 2021, we began work on a minimum HR framework for the network, which includes standardized HR policies for recruitment, job grading and promotion.

Solidaridad made a significant effort in 2021 to systematically drive our solution development and innovation. For this purpose Global Expert Teams around the four major result areas of Solidaridad were established: Good Practices, Supportive Business Ecosystems, Enabling Policy Environments and Market Uptake. These global teams facilitate cross-regional learning and cooperation, and thought leadership, internally and externally, to accelerate our interventions with the market. In its first year, the Global Expertise Teams made progress to recruit the relevant teams and define thematic priorities of mutual interest and importance in the Network.

In 2021 we drafted the first version of a global learning strategy built on existing initiatives throughout the network. To enhance project cycle management the external evaluation of the Practice for Change Programme was expanded with a series of learning sessions to be completed in 2022. To strengthen our innovation capabilities, workshops with Ideo.org and BopInc were held. The focus was on enhancing the capability to obtain early user feedback and incorporate the business case in an early stage of the design process.  

Internal communication

With the majority of staff working from home due to Covid-19, having a well-maintained online source for internal information proved to be more relevant than ever. Our intranet has been re-baptized as the Knowledge Hub and is increasingly becoming the one-stop shop for all internal information. 

After the success of the online town hall session in 2020, we decided to continue this concept. In 2021, each region hosted one town hall session where they presented their region and allowed for questions from staff. The town hall sessions were generally well-attended (between 100 and 500 participants) by a wide range of staff from all regions. 

To increase the feeling of belonging and the understanding of the Solidaridad spirit, we released ‘the Yellow Book’ at the end of 2021. In clear and short texts, the Yellow Book gives an overview of Solidaridad’s mission and vision, strategy, and positioning. It provides useful information for communicating about Solidaridad, about ICT tools we use, about our values and integrity documents, and much more. While the yellow book is primarily for people who have recently joined Solidaridad, it has been handed out to all current staff as well. 

Visibility

We reached record visibility through online articles that featured our work, with potential reach figures totalling 1.1 billion. Main contributors to this achievement were publications around the Cocoa Barometer (released at the end of 2020), and the Coffee Barometer (released early 2021), making people aware of the failure of the cocoa and coffee industry to deliver on their sustainability commitments, and that coffee and coffee farmers continue to only get a fraction of earnings, pushing them into poverty.

We undertook five consumer campaigns in the Netherlands that jointly reached 6.3 million people, making them aware about the issues in the value chains of products they are using/consuming every day.

We also launched a new, more relevant global website in 2021 that performed much better than the previous website, boosting the number of new visitors by 19% and the number of sessions by 10%. The new website is focused on providing a platform for the voices from the Global South. It also has a much improved news and publications database to make Solidaridad knowledge easier to access and trace. To increase transparency, we have also made an effort to make all annual reports and accounts as of 2014 publicly accessible on our website. 

We published an average pace of two articles a week in 2021. Next to this, we published various publications, stories and social media messages. Examples of well-scoring articles were on the Coffee Barometer, on our new strategy and an opinion article from our Director Asia on the palm oil ban in Sri Lanka

With regards to our online visibility, reach and engagement geared at business target audiences, we witnessed a decreased or at least stabilizing growth on the international Facebook and Twitter channels, while YouTube increased significantly in popularity. LinkedIn remains a key platform for Solidaridad to engage with business audiences. We did an internal campaign to stimulate staff to become active on LinkedIn and supported Solidaridad experts and management in publishing articles and personal branding. 

We also developed a podcast. In Jeroen’s Breakfast Brief, Jeroen Douglas invites people within our area of work to discuss a topic. In 2021, we produced 15 podcasts with a total of 1,181 downloads.

To explain our strategy and our work in a simple way to external audiences, we also developed a simple 2 minute animation video in English, Dutch and Spanish. 

Good evaluation provides evidence for learning through collecting, sharing, analyzing and interpreting information on progress while also providing reliable information to the donor on achievements and decisions made (accountability). Several evaluations took place in 2021. 

The external evaluation of our “Practice for Change” (PFC) programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was conducted by AidEnvironment. Its purpose was not only accountability to the donor but also an important opportunity to learn. The learning is oriented at strategic choices, results and failures, to inform future strategic choices and strengthen future programming. The evaluation provided good insights on achievements and was key to inform the design of a new proposal to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The evaluation concluded that despite the Covid-19 pandemic the programme was able to reach most of the set targets, but the potential without Covid would have been larger. All projects have contributed to systemic changes, even though these are often not always well documented. In most case studies there is a clear link between the identified systemic issues and strategies adopted. In all projects, farmers or miners have adopted good practices and immediate outcomes were realized (e.g. increased productivity, improved working conditions). Value chain actors have also benefited from good practices, but in most cases full adoption needs some more time to mature. In all projects service providers have been supported, which contributed to reach many farmers, with potential to reach many more. More time is needed for service providers to become viable enterprises. 

An end of project evaluation for the FOSEK project (Food Security Through Improved Resilience Of Smallholder Coffee Farmers In Ethiopia And Kenya) was conducted by Avance Impact. The purpose of the evaluation was to reflect on the achievements and lessons learned from the implementation period, and to contribute to the thinking and planning for future programming. One of the most important achievements of the programme was increased volumes and quality of coffee. The reason for this level of success lies in the fact that the partners were all committed to the coffee value chain. This also implied that working in other value chains was much more difficult and less successful, such as in the food value chains. The establishment of nurseries as a business case proved to be successful, as they are profitable, they have facilitated the production and distribution of improved coffee varieties and have taken up in many cases the production of tree seedlings and vegetables seeds and cuttings. Jobs were created during the programme’s implementation period, and most of these jobs remain after programme closure. This despite the competition of government nurseries against subsidized prices.

The evaluation of the Green Tanning Initiative (GTI) performed by AidEnvironment showed that sustainable processing is happening, quality has improved, and testing capacity has improved. Women and workers are empowered – attributable to Solidaridad. A Geological Evaluation for artisanal and small-scale mines in Tanzania was performed by a geologist which showed the  continued use of mercury by small-scale mines could be associated with its availability, affordability and effectiveness in gold extraction compared to its safer alternatives. More research is needed to reveal the extent of non-adoption of good practices. These and other findings will inform the design and implementation of targeted interventions going forward. 

Several baseline studies were conducted for our new advocacy programme: Reclaim Sustainability!

Solidaridad has designed a detailed data model allowing standardization of Key Performance Indicators across the organization as well as defined data points, definitions and methodologies to improve data quality. The data model supports the collection of granular data which allows monitoring progress overtime. It allows measurement of progress on an individual level, with the ability to feed the data back to the individual and make decisions and adapt strategies on the spot.  

In 2021, our data model was rolled out across the organization which meant that all new and existing projects integrated the KPIs to their monitoring frameworks, contextualized the data needs and adopted the definitions and methodologies for data collection. In 2021, we were able to link granular data from two regional databases to a central database which allows Solidaridad to analyze and generate insights at the global level. In 2022, we will continue to link the remaining regional databases to the central database. 

Finance

56.3 million revenue

The revenue of Solidaridad Network increased with Euro 1.5 million from Euro 54.8 million in 2020, to Euro 56.3 in 2021. Although the revenue increased against 2020, it stayed behind budget. The budgeted secured revenue was Euro 57.9 million; on top of that another Euro 14 million revenue was forecasted to be potentially received from our pipeline. These figures show that 2021 was yet another year that was influenced by the difficult circumstances around the Covid-19 virus. The pipeline is expected to pick up again, although at a slower pace than before the Covid pandemic.  

Aggregated income (x1,000 EUR) Solidaridad Network 2011-2021

From the total revenue of Euro 56.3 million in 2021, Euro 33.2 million (59%) was generated by Solidaridad Europe (2020: 63%). The three regional offices on the African continent generated Euro 12.4 million (22%) (2021: 24%) and Solidaridad Asia generated 5.7 million (10%) (2020: 8%). The Americas generated another 5 million (9%) (2020: 5%). 

In 2021 the level of income from government grants remained more or less equal (69% in 2021 versus 68% in 2020). The government of the Netherlands is the biggest contributor.

Direct Expenditure per region, 2021 (x1,000)

The total expenditure that was invested by the regions in their own region amounted to Euro 53.9 million (2020: 50.8 million). This was spent for the largest part in Africa (41%), Asia (19%) and Europe (18%).

Direct expenditure per cost type, 2021

For the biggest part (40%), our expenses went to staff costs. Solidaridad’s projects are mostly carried out by its own staff rather than by external partners and consultants. A third (33%) was spent on activity costs (2020: 36%). This contains travel and accommodation costs, as well as other costs such as training costs related to our programs, benchmarks, and other materials that are needed for the execution of programs in the field.

Each region produces its own annual accounts. All our annual accounts are checked and signed by independent external auditors. More detailed financial information can be found in these official annual accounts – including the official auditor’s statements. Some of the links below still refer to the 2020 statements. The new statements will be uploaded as soon as they come available.

EUROPE

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA

AFRICA

ASIA

NORTH AMERICA