What we do


SNV bridges the gap between theory and practice, between policy ambitions and effective implementation at scale. We implement approaches that are tailored to local needs as we believe that countries and communities themselves should be the owners of change. With appropriate knowledge and resources, they can implement and maintain their own sustainable solutions to end poverty. We are experts in agriculture, energy, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Our know-how services include advice, brokering and stakeholder engagement, advocacy, fund management, results-based financing and delegated management.  

   


Focus on practical know-how

Advice

Advisory services are core to SNV’s programmes. Our advice aims at strengthening capacity in the public sector and civil society to respond to national and local priorities and to address systemic constraints in agriculture, energy, and WASH. Our advice also responds to demand from private entrepreneurs, such as farmers, agri-businesses, energy companies, and masons, to strengthen their businesses and services. We also advise public authorities to develop and implement policies, target investments effectively and operate services efficiently.

Brokering and stakeholder engagement

We often play a brokering role – anchored in our belief that eradicating poverty and addressing complex problems is possible when local and national governments, the private sector, civil society, and communities cooperate and act collectively. SNV works to bring these often poorly connected or conflicting parties together. We ensure local ownership and allow local actors to shape and drive their own agendas and assume responsibility for leading development processes.

Advocacy

We influence governments, civil society and other actors to improve policies and regulations by advocating for the application of our know-how and showing the results of the approaches we use. Our advocacy is embedded in our other activities and is evidence-based. We partner with applied policy research institutes to complement our field experience. We also strengthen the capacities of civil society organisations to engage in contextualised policy dialogue. Advocacy has long been an implicit part of SNV’s work but has gained more explicit prominence in projects in the past few years. We do not engage in issue-based advocacy at a global level.

Fund management

Access to finance helps entrepreneurs to mainstream innovations into their activities at scale. We manage funds on behalf of, and in cooperation with, local and national governments. We will expand the volume of our grant management. The unique value that we add is that we combine grants with our expert advisory services. In this strategy period, we will increasingly leverage commercial financing. Building our financial analysis expertise is a condition sine qua non for this. We already apply our technical and local know-how to partner with financial institutions providing loans and guarantees. We will start to engage in more structural partnerships with financial institutions. We will consider taking limited financial risk ourselves.

Results-based financing

SNV has a strong track record in results-based financing (RBF, also known as output-based aid or payment by results) to scale up service provision, particularly for energy, and sanitation and hygiene services. RBF can maximise the value for money international donors and governments obtain by paying for services only upon delivery of agreed results. This shifts the delivery risk from financiers to service providers. Providing limited incentives that are phased out over time has proven to be a powerful means to attract private firms to expand service provision. SNV’s role in RBF schemes includes designing RBF incentive schemes, providing services ourselves (being paid on the basis of results), and administering RBF projects (paying incentives to others following verification of results).

Delegated management

We design, roll out and manage development initiatives on behalf of governments or donors. And we do so in ways that establish and build national and local ownership and engage our strong network of local service providers. We apply our long-term, in-country presence and international knowledge network to develop new approaches and to adapt proven approaches to local contexts. Our delegated management does not involve managing major construction projects.

Our products

Our work focuses on three sectors: agriculture, energy and WASH. By continuing to focus on these interconnected areas, and adapting and expanding our approach within them, we will reach more people and continuously improve the quality of our work. Within these three sectors, we have defined eight products:

Inclusive value chains

We will consolidate our inclusive value chains portfolio, focusing on smallholder farmers, and small- and medium-sized agri-businesses. We will help enterprises to strengthen their supply chains, use resources more efficiently and to become competitive while ensuring environmental sustainability. Support for businesses will involve strengthening their supply chains by bolstering working relationships between producers, processors, distributors, small-scale farmers and service providers. Our focus will be on seven commodities: dairy, livestock, horticulture, cassava, coffee, cacao and palm oil. We will focus on these commodities because of their economic importance in the countries where we work, the economic opportunities they provide for those living in poverty and their potential for export markets. Learn more.

Sustainable Nutrition for All (SN4A)

We will grow our sustainable nutrition portfolio. Our projects tackling malnutrition will encourage diverse, more nutritious diets. We will build local capacity to trigger demand for diverse diets by working with communities, raising awareness on the risks of stunting, and enabling them to create solutions to improve local hygiene and nutritious behaviour. We will also empower local authorities to continue to implement this community work. On the supply side, we will help smallholder farmers to diversify into nutrient-rich vegetable and food crops. By working to understand the multiple factors involved in improving nutrition, we will learn how best to induce behavioural change. In particular, we will focus on the influence of gender relations on nutrition. Learn more.

Climate and business

Our projects on climate and business cut across agriculture and energy. We are growing our work on climate-smart agriculture through a number of transformational projects that could make a large-scale impact. We bring together value-chain actors – authorities, research partners and investors from the private and public sectors – to speed up the adoption of proven, climate-smart agricultural practices and business solutions that address both adaptation and mitigation along value chains. We also incubate innovation to contribute to increasing the spectrum of measures to build climate resilience. Learn more.

Sustainable energy markets

Our work on biogas markets applies our decades-long expertise to specific local market conditions. We have also established a track record in introducing improved cookstoves and off-grid electricity solutions. Our approach is anchored in market research. Based on our local know-how and as appropriate, we combine demand creation, technical and business advice for entrepreneurs, incentives to distribute quality products, support to government agencies to run market-based energy programmes and advice to improve enabling environments. We offer early-stage grants and results-based financing to help de-risk commercial investments and incentivise companies to engage in underserved areas. Alongside, we advocate for more funding for decentralised energy services, for the removal of regulatory barriers to make the energy sector more attractive to business investors and for national quality standards. Learn more.

Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE)

In this strategy period, we will scale up our work on creating job opportunities for young people across agriculture, energy and WASH. Our opportunity for youth employment (OYE) approach includes creating employment opportunities (pull), basic skills training (push), and market placement and enterprise. We help young people to find jobs by getting our network of companies in agriculture, energy and WASH interested in offering vocational training and on-the-job learning and offering concrete employment opportunities. We will also help young people to fulfill their entrepreneurial aspirations by developing their skills and knowledge through training, facilitating access to money to set themselves up, and by coaching them in leadership and business skills. Learn more.

Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A)

We work together with local authorities to develop area-wide sanitation service delivery models for their jurisdictions. Our aim is to create and/or change WASH systems. This is done using a hands-on approach, working collaboratively towards improved sanitation and hygiene, and continuously reflecting and learning. The approach creates demand for sanitation services, develops sanitation supply chains in rural areas, builds capacity for behaviour change and strengthens WASH governance systems. Over the past five years, this integrated approach has proven successful in more than 160 districts in 18 countries. We place users at the centre of our efforts: households, schools, health facilities and public places. Understanding users and their diversity of needs is essential for sustainable sanitation. Learn more.

Urban Sanitation and Hygiene for Health and Development (USHHD)

In urban areas, we work on citywide inclusive sanitation services for all. In partnership with city authorities and utilities, we aim to change the way in which human waste is managed. We address the needs of diverse populations, encompass all parts of the sanitation service chain and recognise that different geographical areas will require different service delivery models. We guide stakeholders through a process of informed choice regarding technologies, finance strategies, regulation and service delivery models that discusses trade-offs, in particular regarding low-income groups and slum residents. Working with the private sector, we develop financially viable, sustainable business models for the treatment, re-use and safe disposal of human waste, and we work with communities on service models that are safe and affordable. Learn more.

Area-wide Rural Water Supply Services (ARWSS)

We pursue an integrated rural water supply approach that looks at the sustainability of services across districts and responds to changing communities. We endorse performance standards for water operators, irrespective of whether they are private, public or community run. Our work contributes to solving service issues relating to water, including the continuity of water services, equal access to water points, water quality, sustainability of services and resilience to extreme events (climatic and social). We work with local stakeholders to develop appropriate management models and post-construction support for districts that are embedded in local WASH governance structures and supported by evidence-based behavioural change campaigns. Learn more.

Impact through direct results and systems change

Our projects directly benefit millions of people. At the same time, our projects also drive systems change – strengthening institutions and kick-starting markets to help many more people work their way out of poverty, well beyond the scope of projects. We commit to operational excellence and are proud to be a not-for-profit organisation implementing our mission exclusively through project financing.

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