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Cracking the Nut Conference
June 12 - 13, 2023
Conference will be held at Chemonics International Headquarters in Washington, DC
Register Now

Early Bird registration closes on March 10

Cracking the Nut Conference

November 15-18, 2021
Over 4 half days
Register Now

Early Bird registration closes on March 10


We are pleased to announce that the next Cracking the Nut conference will take place in June 2023, in Washington DC

Recently, it has become increasingly obvious that there is too much risk involved in financing rural and agricultural development to attract sufficient commercial investment and that development assistance is needed to facilitate finance, especially to agribusinesses, in developing countries. Without investing in farmers, the world will continue to experience food shortages, price hikes and food insecurity. This learning event will discuss what are appropriate ways to support rural and agricultural development in developing countries without damaging commercial markets. We will explore the opportunities for finance to drive supply chains and trade, the needs of informal enterprises (i.e. the hidden middle) and an enabling business advisory ecosystem, as well as how green finance and informal financial institutions can support farmers to be effective stewards of climate change.

Connexus Corporation is working with ISF Advisors to organize a two-day conference, which will review the recommendations put forward in their 2022 CASA1 publication, “The state of the agri-SME sector; Bridging the Finance Gap” and begin to fill in the knowledge gaps needed to ensure these approaches are viable and will stimulate natural market mechanisms. This topic is particularly important given the negative impacts of climate change in countries and assumes all agricultural development efforts must be climate smart. By addressing this important topic, this event will convene leading experts in rural enterprise development, sustainable agriculture, finance, and investment, including representatives from the private sector, governments, donors, and development implementers. As always, the conference has engaged an Advisory Committee, including agents of change in rural and agricultural development, finance and investment, who are helping us to identify interesting speakers and participate in a competitive selection of presenters for break‐out sessions.

Cracking the Nut 2023 will provide a demand‐driven, collaborative learning space where participants share experiences and best practices on innovative approaches to reducing risks and supporting rural and agricultural development, while stimulating and incentivizing private sector investment. This event will bring together approximately 300 of the world’s relevant stakeholders to discuss “tough nuts” related to appropriate approaches for blended finance and smart subsidies, including the themes below.

Our Themes

Reducing Risks Associated With Rural and Agricultural Investments

To what extent are insurance and guarantee funds helping to reduce risks of rural and agricultural investments? What more can be done to ensure these solutions are fully utilized? What other awards, incentives or data platforms can help to reduce risk and attract rural and agricultural investment? How can technical assistance and the business advisory ecosystem help to make rural and agri-businesses more credit and investment ready?

Using Subsidies and Blending Commercial Capital to Achieve Development Impacts

How can donors and governments invest in a way that will attract private investment in rural and agricultural markets? What are the ways in which finance can drive supply chains and trade? How can Investment Committees ensure that a Fund’s social objectives are met? What are the trade-offs between focusing on significant private sector leverage versus maximizing social impact? Can pension funds be used to create more long-term debt and quasi-equity investments in rural and agricultural markets, such as for agro-forestry?

Integrating Underserved Populations Into Commercial Markets

What business models are most effective in ensuring inclusion of women, youth and the rural poor in commercial markets and access to finance? Are grant funds better directed at underserved populations, such as women and youth, or at investment vehicles to lower the cost of finance and expand outreach to more rural areas? What business models encourage “catalytic capital,” in which finance flows to agri-SMEs along with their associated farmers? How can we support linkages between banks and informal financial institutions?