Participatory identification of economic opportunities

The surveys and other research noted in Identifying stakeholders and partners will identify a number of potential products and services which could generate employment and income. More in-depth exploration of these possibilities will be carried out through detailed feasibility studies, which form the basis of the TREE training and post-training plan.

Moving from the range of ideas generated through surveys and research to identifying one or two ideas that will be explored in feasibility studies is a key responsibility for stakeholders. Their task is to decide which of the ideas have the best overall ‘fit’ for their community, considering factors including:
  • The availability and cost of raw materials/resources needed to produce the product or service
  • The economic impact of the new activity on the community: both positive in terms of new income and employment, and negative in terms of impacts on current employment and activity (such as diversion from subsistence food agriculture to cash crops).
  • The potential training needs associated with the new activity.
  • The potential social impact of the new activity, such as a change in roles for women or members of excluded groups.
As a preliminary step, the TREE developers should review all the potential ideas from the surveys to identify those that appear to have the best potential from the perspective of availability of resources for production and market for sales, of people reasonably able to do the work, and financial viability, based on the information gathered in the research.

In principle, there should be no more than five ideas selected for community review, and fewer may be appropriate, although there should be at least two.

A number of discussions may be held to ensure that all stakeholders are able to fully participate. Separate sessions may be held for women and men, for beneficiaries, and economic and development actors. The local advisory committee may take a lead role in convening these discussions and in developing their findings.

The objective of these discussions is to develop a small number of leading ideas for economic activities that will generate employment and income for the beneficiaries. These ideas are then tested and further refined through feasibility studies