From the Field

Partner Selection in APMI: Building Strong Foundations for Success

Partner Selection in APMI: Building Strong Foundations for Success

July 13, 2023 / World Poultry Foundation / Share:

By: Randall Ennis, Maureen Stickel and Jan de Jonge

Partner selection plays a crucial role in the success of the African Poultry Multiplication Initiative (APMI). The selection process involves careful assessment and consideration of various factors to identify committed and capable partners who can drive the implementation of APMI effectively and profitably. By establishing partnerships with local private-sector poultry companies, the APMI aims to create sustainable dual-purpose poultry value chains that provide affordable protein to rural communities. In this blog post, we will delve into the partner selection process and explore its significance to the APMI model. As other organizations identify implementing partners for projects with similar objectives, we hope this provides a guide to support selection.

Understanding Partner Selection:

Partner selection begins with an in-depth assessment of the poultry industry in each respective country through desk research. This initial step helps us understand the local market dynamics and identify potential partners. The team then narrows down the selection by considering essential factors including: 

  1. Knowledge and experience in poultry production: Partners would ideally possess expertise in breeding, hatching, and feed production to ensure a smooth supply chain and high-quality products. During the initial stage, we focus on bridging gaps in knowledge and experience through comprehensive training and knowledge-sharing opportunities facilitated by WPF.
  2. Understanding of local customs and cultures: Recognizing the diversity within rural communities is vital for effective market outreach and community engagement.
  3. Strong relationships with local and country government ministries: Partners should be able to navigate government channels and seek necessary approvals and support.
  4. Ability to co-fund: As the APMI is not purely a development program, partners must be financially capable of sharing the investment and risks associated with scaling up operations.
  5. Commitment to the APMI as a standalone business model: Partners should view the APMI as a long-term business opportunity, rather than a side project, and allocate resources and management for its success.

Once we identify possible partners who meet these requirements, we visit each country for in-person meetings. These meetings involve farm visits, discussions with owners, and a comprehensive review of each partner’s existing infrastructure including facilities, record-keeping, and farm management practices in order to determine their capacity and commitment. 

Maureen Stickel, WPF Director of International Program Development, explains, “In those initial meetings with poultry companies, we are trying to assess their business model and if they might be a good partner, but they are equally trying to understand what we bring to the table. It is just as important for us to have a clear value proposition we are offering during those initial conversations, as well as to not over promise should we decide to go in a different direction. It is certainly a balance.” Identifying the right partner(s) and understanding their unique needs is the most important step in the APMI process.

The Onboarding Process with New Partners:

The onboarding process with new partners involves meticulous planning, forecasting, and procurement. Each partner requires tailored support based on their specific needs, which may include constructing housing for parent stock, establishing a hatchery, or enhancing feed production capabilities. Jan de Jonge, WPF Senior Program Director for Africa, explains, “The onboarding of each partner will look different. For example, in Sierra Leone, there are no existing hatcheries so we have to build into the onboarding process learning opportunities, training, and extra time to establish this type of infrastructure.” Understanding the unique needs of each partner and developing a plan based on those needs is crucial in establishing a solid foundation for the DPP (Day-Old Poultry) value chain before chicks are provided to farmers.

This initial period requires careful attention to ensure the company’s future success. Once the logistical aspects are organized and operational, the focus shifts to training. The company’s field team is trained on brooding chicks effectively, recruiting Brooder Units to purchase chicks, and marketing the birds to households in rural communities. This training phase involves managing multiple aspects simultaneously. After the program is operational and any initial, we stay on as advisors to support this new aspect of their and help them to drive the business

Adapting to Each Country:

Adapting the APMI to each country’s context, in every aspect of this program, is essential for a seamless rollout. A good example of how partner selection may be tailored to each country is Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, we selected two partners instead of one. One of the partners will primarily be responsible for the DPP production, building, operationalizing and managing the hatchery and main farm for the DPP chicks while the other partner, who has a very strong existing rural presence, will add additional distribution support to accelerate penetration into rural areas. The decision to adopt this approach was driven by the goal of expediting market penetration in rural areas, enabling faster scaling of operations and ultimately leading to increased profitability and sustainability.

What Defines Success in Partner Selection?

Success in partner selection goes beyond reaching absolute targets and outputs. It hinges on the partner’s commitment, adaptability, and willingness to overcome obstacles. The ultimate measure of success lies in the partner’s ability to sustain and grow the initiative independently and to achieve self-sufficiency within the envisioned timeframe.

Randall Ennis, WPF CEO, says, “The vetting and selection of the right partner is the single most important decision in the APMI implementation process. Without a committed and capable partner, the chances of success are lowered dramatically and will occupy an inordinate amount of management time and energy for the WPF team. The implementation of this novel model is challenging under the best of conditions, but to have to constantly “push and pull” to realize milestones makes the effort far more challenging. The profile of the “perfect” partner does not exist because each company has its own strengths and weaknesses and varying levels of experience in the poultry value chain.” 

By assessing the poultry industry, evaluating potential partners, and considering country-specific factors, the APMI program can establish strong foundations for success. Ultimately, we will know if the initiative was successful if after the third or fourth year, the companies are managing with only superficial input and guidance from the WPF and are demonstrating continuous growth and expansion. Randall leaves us with, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”

World Poultry Foundation would like to thank Qatar Fund for Development for their generous support expanding the APMI program to Sierra Leone and The Gambia.