acdi voca
Dating back to the 1997 merger of the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance, ACDI VOCA is a nonprofit devoted to improving global economic development.

The merger of the two nonprofits increased the individual organizations’ capabilities and scale, combining the complementary strengths of ACDI’s long-term development approaches and VOCA’s people-to-people volunteer activities.

ACDI VOCA works to help others on a large scale, expanding economic opportunities around the world, increasing social benefits and promoting food security solutions. In order to accomplish these goals, the organization implements development projects.

While the number of projects underway is impressive in itself, the scope and lasting impact is even more significant for countries in need.

While initially the organization began with strictly an agricultural focus, today the organization embraces comprehensive economic development approaches in the fields of food security, value chain-oriented enterprise development, poverty alleviation, access to financial services, farmer organization, self-help community development and efforts to stabilize fragile states.

Strategizing to obtain results through expertise, accountability, collaboration and innovation, ACDI VOCA seeks to understand problems through a comprehensive lens. Proving it can tackle complex and international interactive projects, the organization staffs experts in areas ranging from financial services to health and nutrition to community development.

An important benefit of ACID VOCA’s services is that most assignments provide short-term expertise to complement long-term development projects. For example, after the fall of the Soviet Union, a substantial number of assignments were carried out in Central and Eastern Europe providing entrepreneurs in these countries with their first exposure to the dynamics of the private sector and modern commercial operations.

ACDI VOCA provides U.S. and international career opportunities, summer internships for graduate students studying international development or a related field and a volunteer program.

The development program provides employees with extensive in-house training and tuition reimbursement where appropriate, such as if an employee takes an online language course for a project. The organization also offers numerous programs for its staff through e-Cornell and the Harvard Business School.

Programs that are currently under way include a business oriented agricultural cooperative in Ethiopia, a farmer’s fertilizer cooperative in India and cooperative banking in Poland. The projects are diverse, and the experts placed on each case depend on the needs of that particular community.

ACDI VOCA receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the World Bank and various regional banks, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and private sector firms.

Although the lasting impact of ACDI VOCA is immeasurable, success is certainly apparent in a record of over 11,000 assignments carried out in 146 countries by highly qualified volunteer specialists and on-staff experts.

– Caroline Logan

Photo: Africaag

ACDI/VOCA Eradicates Economic Endangerment

ACDI/ VOCA is an organization dedicated to making financial stability accessible to individuals across the globe, regardless of their socio-economic status. One look at its name doesn’t tell a reader much, but the name of this organization is just as peculiar in appearance as it is rich in meaning.

The name dates back to 1977, referring to the merger of the Agricultural Cooperative Development International (ACDI) and the Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA).

ACDI, as its own entity, sought to develop joint ventures around the world that indicate the values present in sustainable dual ownership, democratic leadership, and economic sustainability. Some of ACDI’s most notable accomplishments include the founding of the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO), re-institutionalizing collective banking in Poland, contributing to food aid monetization in several countries, and creating business-oriented farming practices in Ethiopia and Malawi.

Migrating from an exclusively “co-op” focus, ACDI began to pay greater attention to economic developments in agriculture, food security, enterprise development, poverty alleviation, and inside-out community development.

In VOCA’s circles, before the two organizations merged, the implementation of the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program was at the cornerstone of their advocacy. Over 11,00 assignments were carried out in 130 countries under this program, providing a short-term experience as building blocks for long-term development.

Once 1977 rolled around, these two international economic organizations saw it fit to join forces.

This new partnership allowed for a unique mix of ACDI’s long-term development initiatives and VOCA’s close attention to individual experience. Together, they cultivated healthy economic communities that valued each citizen—and created a system to last. For the sake of ease (and thankfully), the two organizations decided to shorten their name to an acronym and became ACDI/VOCA (pronounced A-C-D-I- Vōca.)

ACDI/VOCA describes themselves as follows:

“[We blend] business and technical acumen with humanitarian concern. Having worked in 145 countries, [we have] established a reputation for implementing successful, large-scale projects addressing the most pressing and intractable development challenges. [Our] approach does not rely on short-term interventions or supply-driven technology transfer directed at single problems in isolation. Rather it looks at problems holistically and taps an array of resources to provide lasting results.”

Funding for ACDI/VOCA comes mostly from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and private sector firms, among others.

– Kali Faulwetter