Connexus was contracted by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to conduct an access to finance assessment for last mile electrification in Sierra Leone. Along with our subcontractor Tetra Tech, Connexus studied how the increased availability and reliability of electricity, coupled with access to financial services, can be a platform for economic growth in the agricultural processing sector. This research informed discussions between the MCC and the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) leading to the development of a compact to leverage access to electricity for post-harvest value-addition. The goal was to examine the financial environment, assess opportunities and constraints to improving access to finance in agriculture, and identify appropriate financial instruments to increase productive use of electricity. The study also evaluated the knowledge, skills, and ability of agricultural value chain actors to access financial, technical assistance, and training resources that are critical to leveraging productive power infrastructure. Finally, the study assessed opportunities and recommended gender- and youth-inclusive interventions (financial and technical) to overcome barriers to post-harvest value-addition.
Upon completion, the MCC Technical Officer overseeing the assessment gave Connexus exceptional ratings in a performance appraisal, stating, “Connexus swiftly adapted to MCC needs and overcame complicated sets of logistical hurdles to rapidly deploy their team of capable experts to Sierra Leone for the MCC study inception workshop, just weeks following contract signature. Their team adaptively managed collaboration and scope-overlap with 2 other study teams to produce deliverables of high-quality and suited to meet the needs of a shortened compact development timeline. Their findings and recommendations regarding the financial and economic opportunities, challenges, and myriad contextual and institutional factors limiting agro-processing firms’ access to finance in the Sierra Leonian economy were valuable to MCC’s design and planning of the Sierra Leone compact.”