Agri Experience is a consulting firm specializing in advisory services for seed system development in sub-Saharan Africa. The company’s founder has more than 23 years of private sector seed experience, and an additional 10 years of international finance and management experience. Agri Experience was launched in 2012 to provide a platform for seed industry professionals to leverage their expertise in delivery of service to Africa’s seed sector. The Agri Experience team has significant agricultural field experience in over 15 countries in Africa, in addition to the US.
Aline O’Connor, Founder and Consultant
Spotlight on Key Practice Area
Aline is the former CEO of Channel Bio Corp., a large US-based row crop seed company which she co-founded in 1991. Since 2008 she has worked full time as a consultant on seed system development in sub-Saharan Africa.
Her work has taken her to more than 15 countries, and involved 100+ field visits with seed production entities..
She is the author/editor of The African Seed Company Toolbox: 52 Tools Every Seed Company Manager Should Know How
She currently teaches at the University of Nairobi’s Seed Enterprise Management Institute (SEMIs), for which she is a founding collaborator, and at the West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana, Legon, in the PhD crop breeding program.
She also serves on the Investment Committee of the African Seed Investment Fund. In addition to 20 years in the seed sector, Aline spent 10 years in the international commercial finance sector, rising to the level of Vice President. Aline has a BA from Georgetown University and an MBA from the University of Chicago, both in the US.
Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) has initiated a new partnership with Agri Experience, Ltd. that aims to work with local sector participants to transform the seed sector in Kenya. The purpose of the partnership is to facilitate change in the sector so that it is more efficient, innovative and inclusive. This will subsequently enable greater productivity by smallholder farmers in various agricultural sectors.
Seeds are one of the least expensive but most important factors influencing agricultural yield potential. If not prioritised, they can negatively affect the yield potential of farmers’ crops more than any other input factor. Through this partnership KMT and Agri Experience, working closely with seed sector participants, aspire to do the following:
Encourage policy formulation and implementation on the basis of regional evidence and learning, transparency, and private sector participation
Enhance linkages between key players in the sector such as input and equipment firms, research organisations, trade associations, universities and financial institutions
Strengthen the adoption of better business management and marketing practices among Kenyan firms as well as increased investment by international companies to strengthen production and access to high quality seeds by smallholder farmers.
Promote a shift in the marketing/retailing of seeds from trader focused to customer focused, leading to improved business relationships among all actors.
KMT’s engagement with Agri Experience in the seed sector is part of the larger Market Assistance Programme which is a multi-donor project designed to transform key agricultural markets and service sectors, mainly in rural areas of Kenya. To learn more about KMT’s work in agriculture, see www.kenyamarkets.org.
Our Focus We focus on building and supporting African seed sector participants as well as entities whose performance is dependent upon seed availability and quality. Clients range from commercial seed companies to food processors to government entities to investors and donors in the seed sector.
Our Guiding Principles
We are committed to building locally responsive seed systems using local talent, country by country
We are guided by the values of integrity and transparency
We are committed to seed systems that have been proven to work for farmers
Our business activities are based on a triple bottom line philosophy:
Improve smallholder farmer and seed producer productivity (social impact)
Build local talent in the seed sector (capacity development)
Be financially stable in order to sustain our work (organizational strength) Back to top
Our Practice Areas Related To Seed Systems
Business strategy and development
Market and policy analysis
Information and communications technology Marketing support
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Examples of prior assignments include:
Policy recommendations for a donor that was advising on seed system development in Ethiopia
Multiple site visits to review and improve production and processing operations for a start-up seed company in Mozambique
Intensive coaching on how to use management accounting to improve profitability for a young seed company in Ghana
Site visits in sub-Saharan Africa for aBritishsocial investment firm to advise on their participation in seed system investments
Advisory support and written recommendations, backed by field visits, to a group working on improving seed system policy in Nigeria.
Site visit to India to study seed system development there and identify possible lessons for seed system development in sub-Saharan Africa
Development of an inventory tracking system for a seed company in Mali that was mechanizing their processing operations
Technical advisory support for an American NGO developing a lending program for seed companies in sub-Saharan Africa
Design and delivery of workshop in Burkina Faso for seed production entities based throughout West Africa
Advice to Kenyan seed company seeking financing on budgeting, cash flow, and financial statement preparation
Training sessions forLiberianandSierra Leoneancompanies on how to increase farmer awareness and adoption of improved seed Back to top
How We Work We work in partnership with our clients to achieve jointly identified goals. Our consulting arrangements generally fall into the following categories, but we are happy to discuss alternate approaches.
Annual retainer for collaborative advisory services on an as-requested basis by the client
Short term project-related advisory services
Longer term assignments working collaboratively as part of a team
Sponsorship of the African Seed Enterprise Growth Facility, which enables us to provide one-on-one consulting for emerging and mid-sized African seed companies and develop seed-specific business tools, such as finance templates and quality control procedures, for them
The African Seed Enterprise Growth Facility is a shared-cost vehicle for providing coaching and critical support services and products to mid-stage African seed companies. The costs are shared by AgriExperience, the client seed companies, and donors who provide valuable underwriting for these services.
Donor funds also support product development in the areas of accounting, finance, marketing, production, strategy, and governance. Please contact us if you are a potential underwriter or client for the African Seed Enterprise Growth Facility.
Our clients and partners understand the need
for sustainable seed systems. They are committed
to developing these systems so that African farmers
can access, on a reliable and affordable basis,
the same quality of resources available to
farmers in other parts of the world.