Farmer Aggregation Access to Credit

This grand challenge is tackled using a mixed methodology approach. It’s an example of framing a problem into a solvable chunk and using an innovative approach to problem solving.

The Challenge

An Inter-governmental Organization representing seventy-two national governments from five continents had been struggling with the monumental task of how to create access to credit and risk management capability for small and medium scale farmers. Consistent with the organization’s efforts to rebrand, it wanted to introduce different and creative methodology to address challenges.


Introducing extensive qualitative research, Robert Nelson worked with the group to refine the stated problem and reduce it to a workable challenge. Ultimately, the group decided to explore the hypothesis that farmer aggregation could lead to credit access and risk management.

Nelson designed a strategic problem solving think-tank that incorporated 7 case studies and force field problem solving methodology. We also worked with the organization to identify an appropriately diverse group of 22 subject matter experts worldwide to join the 110 member government representatives at the think-tank.

In a small group format, with experts in each group, case studies were introduced and discussed. The objective of the case studies was to impart knowledge, to stimulate discussion about challenges and opportunities, and identify success / failure triggers.

The group used facilitated discussion to clarify the problem and reach consensus on a future desired state. Using force field analysis methodology to identify environmental forces pushing toward the desired future state (driving forces) and barriers impeding realization of the desired future state (restraining forces), 187 forces were identified.

By using analytical processes the group identified high impact driving and restraining forces.


The results included identification of three high impact-driving forces and four high impact restraining forces and strategies were to strengthen the driving forces and weaken the restraining forces.

In addition to developing strategies to achieve the desired future state, the organization identified key gaps in the knowledge base that can be used as a roadmap for the organization to follow as it continues to explore options to facilitate the access to credit and risk management for small and medium scale farmers.