Winrock International

Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources. Winrock matches innovative approaches in agriculture, natural resources management, clean energy and leadership development with the unique needs of its partners. By linking local individuals and communities with new ideas and technology, Winrock is increasing long-term productivity, equity and responsible resource management to benefit the poor and disadvantaged of the world.
Jul 1, 2014

A Summer of Decision Aids

This summer NGFN turns its resources to giving people solid techniques for making well-educated, strategic decisions. Good Food businesses have a TRIPLE bottom line to answer to, making it even more critical to make the right decisions about fundamental business investments. This summer we look at two top investments (technology and trucks), with an emphasis on food hubs, though the principles apply to any business.


Byte Sized: Choosing Appropriate Technology to Run Your Good Food Business -Register now!
Thursday, July 24, 3:30-4:45 ET

Good Food Businesses are complicated. There are many types of exchanges that a business must track accurately, including money, food, and many types of information. And there are a large number of constituents that need to have all of the right things - growers, buyers, consumers, drivers, and warehouse personnel to name a few.

In the 21st century, we must use software to ensure all pieces of our business are accurately served. But how do you choose the right technology to help run your business? A solution that does not fit your business well could cost a lot of money, and worse, lost productivity.

The first step in choosing the right solution is a deep understanding of your own business. With the right analysis you can make technology choices with greater speed, and with confidence. This webinar will give you the tools to perform an accurate analysis of your business technology needs. Although the presentation will focus on food hubs (arguably one of the more complicated Good Food businesses, as a "middle man" interacting with all pieces of the food system), the same theories apply to ALL businesses.

Your donations keep these Free! Register now!


Ins-TRUCK-tion Manual: Lease, Buy, or Other? Register Now!
Thursday, August 21, 2014 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM EDT

How do you decide whether to lease, own or outsource your trucking?

As we talk to food hubs across the country this question comes up over and over again. Farm Credit of the Virginias and Farm Credit Council have created a new tool that will give you a definitive financial answer to that question.

Moreover, this same type of analysis can be used for any food operation that involves equipment, from farming to processing and beyond.

This webinar will take you through theory and practice of making the right decision for your business.

Your donations keep these Free! Register now!



Kept free by your generous donations.


Community-Based Food Business Financing

In Austin, Texas a group of folks hungry for local food have cracked the code to access capital – looking to the community. Using a cooperative model they are continuing to innovate. Starting with the knowledge gained from such ventures as a co-op grocer, their success led them to experiment with opening a co-op brew pub. This venture has been another striking success, and are now working to open a cooperative food hub.

This webinar starts with the basics of what a co-op is, how it works, and then discusses accessing community-based capital through what is called a Member Investor Share Offering (MISO, also known as a Direct Public Offering or DPO). By leveraging the dollars from the community, they have been able to finance the start-up and beginning operations of innovative co-ops. Hear what the organizers of these businesses believe to be the secrets to their success, and some suggestions on how you might consider financing your planned operation in this way.

Watch now!


Net Value: An Innovative Approach to the Seafood Supply Chain

As a fisherman, business as usual means heading out to sea, battling the elements, catching as much as you can, and heading back inland to sell what you caught on auction. You do not know what will sell, and you do not know what price it will fetch.

As an institutional, retail or other mid-scale buyer you are also at the mercy of the auction. Budgeting is difficult, and there is generally no means to assure that the fish you are buying has the attributes you value, such as being sustainably caught, allowable bycatch, etc.

Open Ocean Trading created an innovative online marketplace, called FYSH-X, that allows buyers and sellers to trade commercially harvested and farmed seafood products in forward time. This value chain approach means that fishermen can leave the docks secure in the profitability of their trips by locking into a price and selling all or a portion of a catch in advance. And buyers are empowered by having prices they can budget for, and by being able to negotiate directly with vessels for any attributes that are important to them.

In this webinar hear the history and context of the fish trading business, and how the Open Ocean Trading marketplace works. A seller (a fisherman) and an institutional buyer speak from their perspectives about how FYSH-X has changed their businesses. And as always, we end with questions and answers.

Watch now!

Jun 16, 2014

AWBC and a Can-Do Attitude Combine

Just short of his 17th birthday, Wes Wilson was looking forward to another South Arkansas summer with his horses and then returning to school to start his senior year. A diving accident changed all that.  Paralyzed from the neck down, Wilson’ prospects were bleak at best.  But this was Wes Wilson, the kid born with the can-do attitude.

Wilson spent the summer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital recovering and working through an exhaustive rehabilitation program. At summer’s end, he was ready.  Wilson began his senior year at Emerson (Arkansas) High School in a push wheelchair and with an aid in tow to help him take notes.  Wilson didn’t just finish his senior year, he owned it.  Wilson graduated with honors and gave a Valedictorian’s speech that brought tears to the entire audience.

That fall, Wilson took time to learn to use his power wheelchair efficiently and enrolled in Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia the following spring semester, where he majored in Agricultural Science. There, Wilson broke many barriers, literally. “I was one of the first students in a power wheelchair to attend SAU and the doors were not designed for my chair, so the facilities folks were always trying to get me unstuck,” Wilson remembers. 

After earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, Wilson searched unsuccessfully for ways to use his education.  Wilson had been working with Innovate Arkansas client InvoTek on technologies to help him become more independent.  That’s when he met John Riggins, a business consultant with the Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC).  “Mr. Riggins introduced me to the AWBC and I became a client,” said Wilson.  “He and the AWBC helped me identify something I loved doing and was good at – tutoring. I decided to create a tutoring service helping junior and senior high students and college students in math, English, and science.” The Center worked with Wilson to create a workable business model and a marketing plan.  InvoTek helped Wilson find funding from the State of Arkansas Vocational Rehabilitation for needed technology.

Wes Wilson Tutoring, LLC launched in July 2013 and has grown rapidly. Today, Wilson works with students from the surrounding area as well as students at Southern Arkansas University and nearby community colleges. Not surprisingly, his students are doing well in their courses and getting better grades, but they are also more self-assured and less intimidated when starting new subjects. 

Thanks to Winrock and the AWBC, the Can-Do Kid is giving other Arkansas young people the confidence to set high expectations and the tools to exceed them.    

The AWBC helps women- (and men-) owned small businesses start, grow, and compete in global markets by providing quality training, counseling, and access to capital. The AWBC is partially funded by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on the AWBC, go to For more information on Wilson, go to

May 20, 2014

Women advising women farmers - May 2014

Women advising Women Farmers (May 23, 2014) By Henk Knipscheer - Senior Fellow

The five 2013 awardees (Mrs. Ayele in Ethiopia, Mrs. Sy in Mali, Mrs. Koné in Mali, Mrs. Traore in Mali and Mrs.  Bukar in Nigeria) have completed the first six months of their studies successfully.

Presently, the Christopher Dowswell Scholarship Fund (Fund) is preparing for the announcement and selection of the 2014 scholars. In order to make the scholarship availability known to as wide an audience as possible, a scholarship website has been developed. The website address is: The University of Central Arkansas located in Conway, Arkansas, was very instrumental in this effort. Applications for new scholarships are welcome from June 1 through July 15, 2014. For the academic year 2014-2015, the Fund aims at tripling the number of scholarships.

The Christopher Dowswell Scholarship Fund is managed by a group of dedicated volunteers in order to minimize the costs of management and administration and maximize the use of the Fund for the support of women farmers in Africa.

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