Corporate engagement & market uptake
In North America, we engaged with 14 corporates with the goal of raising funding for solutions ranging from regenerative agriculture to pay for impact digital solution development. We secured funding from one corporate partner, and received invitations from leading tech and agrifood companies to apply for funding. We supported other Solidaridad offices to apply to corporations or their foundations, for instance PepsiCo and Google.org.
We participated as panelists or sponsors in five external events covering topics from social inclusion, digital innovations, and post-Covid supply chain resiliency, and hosted two internal webinars on the North American donor landscape and our regional strategic plan.
We secured government and philanthropic funding to support programs including reducing deforestation, improving artisanal mining conditions, fostering women’s inclusion and more, spanning Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Work that resonates
Executing the strategic plan
The 2021-2025 strategy got off to a strong start in North America, as the team was able to clearly articulate the unique position of Solidaridad to meet current needs in the climate, agriculture, and supply chain spaces in a way that clearly resonated with a North American audience. With a strong locally-led network structure and extensive global reach, donors were able to see the value of working with Solidaridad and offered new and continued commitments to supporting our work.
2021 was another fast moving year for programme management with the completion, continuation, or start of six projects, spanning regions and commodities. In mid-2021, we wrapped up a climate-smart sugarcane project in India supported by a global food and beverage company. We also completed our research on supplier incentives to prevent deforestation in cocoa supply chains in Brazil and Ghana, supported by CERES, as well as research via consultancy Resonance on the interest of EU and US companies in incentives platform Ping. We led in the set-up of a truly Network-wide project team for Ping and fine-tuned our strategic direction in preparation for a proof of concept phase in early 2022. An extension of Ping for the minerals sector, called Esawa, has developed into a close collaboration with Canadian NGO IMPACT and funding from Intel. Work continued on the USAID-funded WomenConnect Challenge in Bangladesh, which saw the development and implementation of digital tools that are enabling rural women dairy farmers to benefit from easy-to-use mobile payment systems and digital technical support to improve their dairy farming practices. In Ghana, we made gains on the Reducing Mercury project, funded by the US Department of State and implemented in partnership with Pact. The project team conducted mine site evaluation and selection, and sensitized stakeholders and engaged consultants about the next stage of the project.
We also embarked on a number of new initiatives in 2021. We cemented a partnership with Carbon Direct to conduct due diligence of a corporate forest replantation in Ghana. We partnered with RESOLVE to provide expert contribution to global dialog on formalization of artisanal and small mines and mercury reduction with USDOS, UN, and OECD.
The corporate engagement landscape for Solidaridad North America in 2021 was a dynamic and exciting space ripe with passion for new innovations as well as renewed energy for building more climate-smart supply chains. The team built upon work done in 2020 that analyzed the interest of corporations to invest in data ecosystems that are more fair and contribute to greater transparency in supply chains. Forty-seven companies responded to research, conducted in partnership with consulting firm Resonance, to provide their insights on a pay for impact data service that benefits farmers and corporations in equal measure. With a mix of enthusiasm and caution from corporations, we were able to further refine our interventions in this space to create the groundwork for a truly unique digital platform, which will continue in development and testing in the coming year.
In addition to the digital innovation support, corporations also supported our work in regenerative agriculture in South America, improved conditions in artisanal mining in West Africa, and circular economy initiatives such as biochar in Central America. Building on the growing visibility of Solidaridad as an organization deeply in touch with smallholder producers and expansive global reach, we have been able to mobilize interest and support from new partners, as well as translating regional partnerships into global relationships.
Our communications strategy in 2021 was closely aligned with the global efforts to increase visibility, engagement, and credibility, while also directly supporting the business development efforts in our donor and corporate engagement activities. Our core activities included developing seven articles about our global programmes, providing contributions and editing to additional articles and impact stories, increasing social media engagement and developing pitch decks and reports for potential funding partners. We also led internal development events to support learning within the Solidaridad network including a webinar on the international development interests of the Biden administration and an internal Townhall event of the North America multi-annual strategic plan.
Externally, we participated as panelists or sponsors in five events including the Global Digital Development Forum, SPECTRUM, ANDE Global Conference, SOCAP, and the launch of the 100 Corporate-Ready Social Enterprises research led by Acumen. We also authored opinion pieces on food systems in Central America and the need for transparency in supply chains.
In 2021, we submitted more than 15 proposals and successfully moved on to close deals on our largest funding partnerships to date, which will be formally announced in 2022. Achieving this critical milestone involved expensive stakeholder research to understand the key priorities of government and philanthropic donors, and to find alignment and synergy with our global initiatives.
This year also saw tremendous collaboration and cooperation between all Solidaridad regional centres, working together intensively to translate regional relationships into global partnerships and to carefully select funding opportunities that were a true match for our global multi-annual strategic plan. The locally-driven network structure of Solidaridad, combined with our deep interconnectedness around a shared strategy has resonated with donors who are increasingly interested in supporting projects that are locally-led, technically sound, and innovative.
Organization & Governance
The North American team continued to grow in scope of work in 2021 without dramatically growing the size of the team. A part-time consultant was brought on for a short period to support fundraising and communications research. The most significant shift for the team came as the North America and Central America Managing Director roles were merged into one and Michaelyn Baur took over management of the centre. This coincided with an emphasis on our work with Central and South America, given increased interest in the regions among North American donors. The second significant change was the addition of a new board member, Deborah Barry, who brings extensive experience in climate change and landscape restoration and a deep passion for the work that Solidaridad does.
North America also participated in the roll out of the new Integrity framework, which included participating in regular, ongoing training for Persons of Trust and Integrity Advisors. Zero integrity incidents were reported in 2021 to the North American integrity advisors.
Finally, North America appointed a team member to ensure compliance and smooth operation of all digital information through the management of North America’s Google Suite and Salesforce accounts.
The income stayed behind budget. On the one hand, this was because income from Government grants was lower than expected. On the other hand, income from related Solidaridad entities was lower than budgeted.
Expenditures in projects were lower then expected due to delays related to Covid.
The full audited financial statements can be found here.