Enhancing transparency and sustainability of coffee value chains in Rwanda (Part 1)

With corporate due diligence legislations on the rise in Europe and consumer demands for greater supply chain transparency, large companies are compelled to address negative human rights and environmental impacts in their global supply chains. These companies need to be able to collect, retrieve and evaluate information about their products and production conditions along the supply chain in real time. INATrace, an open source traceability system based on blockchain technology, was developed by Anteja on behalf of the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA) to make agricultural commodities traceable from production up to the final product. It not only promotes trust and security between trading partners but also enhances the efficiency of supply chains, which in the long run should increase farmers’ incomes and a contribute to women’s empowerment. INATrace helps European companies collect, retrieve and evaluate information about their products and production conditions along the supply chain in light of the corporate due diligence legislations on the rise in Europe. It is free to use, adaptable, transferable and scalable.

For the first time, INATrace was successfully implemented for Rwandan coffee value chains with the aim to empower women’s coffee cooperatives and to increase coffee value chain transparency. Together with INA and partners the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and Rwanda Smallholder Specialty Coffee Company (RWASHOSCCO), we worked to:

  • improve supply chain traceability
  • create transparency between the actors along the supply chain in regard to supply chain processes, product quality and prices paid to local producers
  • make this information available also to end consumers through a scannable QR code on the coffee packages.

Through efficiency gains along the value chain and a greater awareness, an increased farmers’ income and a contribution to women empowerment is intended in the long run.

Our work included technical implementation, testing, software maintenance and preparation of training materials and documentation. First, the value chain was mapped from women coffee growers to end coffee consumers in Germany to define the visual prototype concept and prioritization of functionality. Technical implementation included several rounds of iterations to develop the MVP prototype, beta version, and the final solution. The final result is an open-source blockchain-based track and trace system. The system provides blockchain verified information on provenance and sustainability attributes to members of the value chain and consumers. The application allows German companies to demonstrate their compliance with the upcoming EU and German due diligence legislations.

Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Date: 2020

Read more about INATrace in Rwanda on the INA’s website.

EU Interreg GoDanubio

Participative ecosystems to foster the revitalization of rural-urban cooperation through governing circular bioeconomy in the Danube regions and cities.

Project duration:

Project start date: 01-07-2020

Project end date: 31-12-2022


Overall: 2713796.5 EUR

ERDF Contribution: 2214155.21 EUR

IPA Contribution: 92571.8 EUR

ENI Contribution: 0 EUR

Danube regions and cities face major societal transitions regarding demographic change. The rural exodus is caused by better employment opportunities for the youth and the prospect of a better life in cities. The movement of labor leads to depopulated areas leaving an aging and increasingly unskilled population behind. However, regions can make a significant new beginning. But a multi-level participative governance approach and new institutional capacities are needed to pool existent excellent competencies and development potentials.

Co-creating future strategies to increase the attractiveness of rural areas is the key to give the youth new incentives to revive rural areas. Circular bioeconomy is used as a tool that promises to foster regional development: It is a concept focusing on the transition of a fossil-resource based economy towards an economy making use of sustainable production of biological resources and processes to develop new products, thus setting rural areas and their development into focus.

The concept catalyzes interdisciplinary cooperation also between different policy areas/levels to actively address demographic change, by enhancing value creation through new collaboration, business models and value chains raising the attractiveness to stay and even move to rural areas.

Long term goal of the project is to enhance the socio-economic status of the regions, contribute to environmental, climate and resource protection as well as foster development of rural areas. An ecosystem for systematic multi-level governance with actors from the interested public, academia, industry and political decision making will be developed.

That ecosystem gives space for co-creation and new forms of integrated urban-rural cooperation leading to increased institutional capacity to tackle demographic change. Thus, overcoming the persistent lack of engagement of societal actors in the political system by giving them ownership to address demographic change.

Project website

Accelerating Sierra Leone’s circular economy of plastics

Recognizing the risks of plastics pollution to tourism and other sectors, Sierra Leone creates opportunities for an increased circular economy, sustainable tourism, economic diversification and environmental conservation.

The project is part of joint efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone (Ministry of Finance) and the World Bank Group, within the initiative “Sierra Leone Economic Diversification Project (SLEDP)”. It aims to facilitate investment, growth of SMEs, and entrepreneurship in non-mining productive sectors in Sierra Leone, such as tourism. 

The project focuses on helping Sierra Leone reduce the problem of plastic pollution. This is done in several stages. As a first step, we identified the economic sectors that contribute to plastic pollution the most. These sectors were assessed in terms of their potential to substitute, re-use or manufacture products from recycled plastics. Initial mapping points included, but didn’t limit to, healthcare, agriculture, hospitality, transport, and construction. This helped to identify and profile sectors that can stimulate the reduction of plastic pollution via regulatory changes concerning the practice of recycling, which leads to the development and production of alternative materials.

The project encompasses in-country interviews with focus groups, stakeholders, and entrepreneurial discovery workshops (EDW). It is also intended to create a Plastics Leadership Platform to further enable SMEs, companies, start-ups, NGOs and governments to contribute to solving plastic pollution challenges. The project does not just tackle pollution, but contributes to gender equality via the creation of career opportunities for women and girls in the fields of plastics manufacturing, re-use, and R&D.

The consortium, formed by Anteja ECG (SI) and VDI/VDE-IT (DE), and ManoCap (Sierra Leone), has had substantial experience in similar assignments related to the circular economy in Africa and globally. The involvement of local partners ensures participation of companies and plastic waste management stakeholders.

Partners: VDI/VDE-IT (DE), ManoCap (Sierra Leone)

Client: The World Bank Group

Date: January 2021 – June 2022


Founding a moringa cluster in Uganda

Joining Ugandan moringa producers to make Uganda a global hotspot for high quality and transparent moringa products.

The cluster aims to group the Ugandan moringa producers, who work with thousands of smallholder farmers and produce high-quality and transparent moringa products, in order to make Uganda a global hotspot for high quality and transparent moringa products.

Partners: VDI/VDE-IT (DE)

Date: June 2021

Cluster’s website


Opportunities for digitalization in natural fibres value chains.

Start date: 1.8.2019
End date: 31.1.2021

Total cost: 233.588,89 EUR
Amount of ARPAF co-financing: 210.230,00 EUR

Funding: co-financed by the European Parliament through the Alpine Region Preparatory Action Fund (ARPAF)
Coordinator: Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die Berggebiete – SAB

– BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH (Germany)
– Department for Economic Development, Research and Labour of the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy)
– Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Maribor (Slovenia)
– Anteja ECG (Slovenia)
– Hub Innovazione Trentino – Fondazione (Italy)
– Ecoplus, the Business Agency of Lower Austria (Austria)

The aim of the Smart SMEs project is to understand to what extent SMEs that produce, process and apply natural fibres use digitalization tools and approaches. The project will also evaluate obstacles that prevent SME’s from exploiting the full potential of digital solutions. An international consortium for the project has been formed, comprising the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Maribor and partners from Italy, Lower Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland.

Every SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) routinely uses email addresses, but digitalization now offers enterprises a whole raft of solutions to make life easier and business more profitable – from electronic document management systems, promoting goods and services on social media to eCommerce and Big Data. Digitalization measures are only successful when company managers want and support them. SME’s, however, tend to have small management teams that are overwhelmed by other tasks, leaving them little time to identify and use the potential offered by digitalization. Businesses in rural areas have the additional problem of often unreliable internet connections.

The Smart SMEs project will contribute to finding solutions to overcome existing barriers. In addition to this, Anteja ECG together with BIOPRO, will organize and host a Policy Action Forum to bring policy makers from different sectors (digitalization, rural development and bioeconomy) together to begin sharing experiences and to validate the roadmap.

The project will be specifically focusing on enterprises in biobased value chains that produce, process and apply natural fibre-based materials, both cultivated and recycled from biological waste. The project is therefore tackling the idea of sustainable transformation in the Alpine region through the bioeconomy concept.

Project’s website

Project’s report

BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH. (May, 2020). Smart SME’s – Mapping of actual state of play and needs, Synthesis report. Smart SME’s.

Setting mechanisms for moringa production in Uganda

A study identifying opportunities and constraints for moringa production in the refugee-hosting areas in the West Nile region, Uganda, and key success factors required to export processed moringa products locally and internationally.

This study identifies the opportunities and constraints for rolling out moringa production in the West Nile region in Uganda and key success factors required to export processed moringa products locally and internationally. It helps to identify sourcing models that bring value to private firms, the refugee hosting communities, and to the refugees themselves. It points out a viable option of rolling out commercial production and processed moringa products, including refugee hosting districts. The final report outlines investments and competitiveness initiatives needed to translate the highest market requirements into production and process capabilities needed to expand the export of moringa processed products and encourage the private sector’s engagement in refugee-hosting areas. 

Partners: VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik (DE), Research World International (UG)

Client: The World Bank Group

Date: 2020

EUSALP Transalp

Bringing the circular economy to farmers in the rural Alpine region for sustainable growth by establishing medicinal and aromatic plants value chains and supporting green infrastructure.

Duration: January 2018 – March 2019

Funding: The project is co-financed by the European Union (Alpine Region Preparatory Action Funds – ARPAF).


  • Cluster Agency Baden-Württemberg (DE, Lead)
  • Plastic Innovation Competence Center (CH)
  • Provincia autonoma di Trento (IT)
  • Poly4EmI hosted by Anteja ECG d.o.o. (SI)
  • Bavarian State Ministry for Environment and Consumer Protection (DE)

Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are botanical raw materials that are used for therapeutic, aromatic or culinary purposes as components of cosmetics, medicinal or food products. There is an increasing demand for medicinal and aromatic plants thanks to an increased production of healthcare formulations. MAP’s-based supplements have a market of $35 billion p. a.

The project aims to bring the circular economy approach to farmers in rural Alpine region for more sustainable growth by establishing medicinal and aromatic plants value chains and supporting green infrastructure networks by promoting sustainable practices and awareness raising.

The main results of the project are a strategic overview on how this cross-cutting topic can work in the Alpine Space, one fully developed medicinal and aromatic plants’ value chain, proposals for upgrading skills of actors and first experiences how green infrastructure networks can work in practice.

Project’s website

Achieving circularity of plastics in Ivory Coast

The aim of the project was to develop a competitiveness strategy and action plan for the circularity of plastics sectors in Ivory Coast.

The project addressed the fundamental challenge of the CDI manufacturing sector by facilitating the implementation of competitiveness initiatives and promoting investment in higher value-added products, and integration to global value chains. 

The main objective was to develop a competitiveness strategy and action plan for plastics sectors in Ivory Coast, embedding a circular thinking approach. This involved undertaking deep-dive analysis in the priority sectors to understand market needs and the CDI positioning towards competitors.

The project provides strategic opportunities informed by markets and a circular economy approach. The project includes the attractiveness assessment of the plastics sector’s market industry in applications, such as consumer goods, constructions, agriculture and options to build a circular economy ecosystem. This entails work with the recycling sector and the eco-friendly alternatives. It focused on the formulation of private sector initiatives dedicated to enabling recycling programs and procedures in the plastics sector with applications in consumer goods, agriculture, construction, and shoes industry. This includes investments in eco design, recycling, using plastic trash for building material, packaging and plastic culture.

Client: IFC, The World Bank Group

Date: 2019

EASTRIP, developing educational programs in East Africa

The project aims to increase technical vocational education and training (TVET) programs in selected Regional Flagship TVET institutes and support regional integration in East Africa.

The proposed East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration (EASTRIP) initially involves three East African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The project’s development objective is to increase the access and improve the quality of TVET programs in selected Regional TVET Centers of Excellence and to support regional integration. The project supports the development of highly specialized TVET programs at diploma and degree levels for training of technicians and TVET faculty, as well as industry recognized short-term training, targeting regional priority sectors in transport, energy, manufacturing, and ICT. The objective will be achieved through complementary interventions at three different levels: center, national, and regional.

This consultancy provided technical support to Tanzanian Regional TVET Centers of Excellence in ICT (DIT Dar es Salaam Main Campus), Agro-processing and manufacturing (DIT Mwanza Campus), Energy (Arusha Technical College) and Transport (National Institute of Transport) to prepare a five-year Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for support by the EASTRIP and Ethiopian Regional TVET Centers of Excellence in Agriculture and Electronics. Additionally, the consultancy has the objective to contribute to capacity building of the targeted institutions and their management and academic teams. The Strategic investment plan – SIP – provides an investment program and budget for each of Regional TVET Center of Excellence covering key dimensions, namely governance and management, industry linkages, market relevant and competency based training programs, training of school managers and teachers, training facilities and equipment outreach and support for non-project national TVET. Specific attention was given to gender issues. Attention was given to strengthening the organization and management capacity of the TVET centers for the development and implementation of the SIPs. This includes (i) sharpen the program focus defined in draft SIPs, (ii) identify activities for each of six areas, (iii) revise and align corresponding budgets to the support centers, and, (iv) finalize SIPs and corresponding Annexes.

We have reviewed the current status of Strategic investment plan, engaged center management and staff in activities, defined key concepts and definitions for Regional TVET Centers of Excellence, elaborated on a stakeholder map. Furthermore, a series of interviews and focus group discussions with governmental officials and industry representatives regarding national development and investment goals was conducted and validated via Validation workshops. Needs assessment regarding skills shortages and capacity for collaboration with industry helps to design the capacity building program for Centers management and defined cooperation modalities with industry for fine-tuning of the training program.

Client: The World Bank Group

Date: 2018

Founding a Syrian-Armenian Center of Excellence (SAIZ)

A center providing technical education and training schemes in the field of manufacturing, engineering and agricultural production, focusing on women entrepreneurs.

SAIZ, the Syrian-Armenian Center of Excellence was established with the support of the Private Sector Development PSD (esp. Syrian SME). First, a needs assessment and feasibility study was commissioned by the GIZ to assess and develop technical education and training schemes in the field of manufacturing and engineering. Dedicated attention was given to training needs of women entrepreneurs. Second, a strategy plan was developed and implemented to establish SAIZ as a national recognized technical training provider in the field of manufacturing and agrofood production. VDI/VDE-IT has been appointed to run the analyses and to support the development and implement capacity building to make SAIZ operational.

Partners: Private Sector Development PSD (esp. Syrian SME), VDI/VDE-IT

Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Date: 2017 – 2018