The Role of Cooperatives and Strengthening Sustainable Vanilla Supply Chains


Jonathan M. White
Washington, DC


Roughly 90% of the world’s vanilla is produced and sourced from Madagascar. Yet, the majority of these vanilla farmers face challenges such as poverty, climate change, and a lack of access to public services such as health and education. They are often not well organized and unable to benefit from working directly with buyers where they can access knowledge, skills and premium prices. At the same time, global companies see risks associated with poor quality and disruptions in their vanilla supply. How are farmers, cooperatives, and companies addressing these challenges? How can the cooperative model support more sustainable vanilla production? What can other countries learn from such partnerships?


Jonathan M. White is the Director of Private Sector Partnerships and Foundations at NCBA CLUSA with over 15-years of international development experience. He is responsible for establishing partnerships with companies, foundations, government donors and NGOs in support of agriculture, cooperative development, youth and resilience programs. He supports the design and management of programs aimed at increasing food security, incomes, access to finance, youth empowerment, and the capacity of farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This includes ensuring high-quality programming, field staff management, and compliance with donor requirements.


Previously, he was the Senior Advisor for East Africa at World Vision U.S. where he managed a $120 million portfolio of community development programs. He worked with World Vision Support offices and Country Directors to develop multiyear country strategies. As a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, he implemented grants focused on researching public-private partnerships, SMEs, agriculture value chains and trade in Africa. He established long-term funding partnerships with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the governments of Sweden and Finland. He led fact-finding missions to Africa, Asia and Europe to generate research and advance policy dialogues and directed a Transatlantic Experts Group on Food Security in Africa. Along with former Congressman Jim Kolbe, he organized Congressional staff events to increase support for U.S. foreign assistance and partnerships with the private sector. As a consultant for A.T. Kearney, he provided strategic advice and developed strategies for emerging market governments seeking to attract foreign direct investment to achieve development goals. He started his career in finance at LGT Asset Management.

Mr. White is a visiting professor at Allegheny College where he teaches foreign aid and development. He was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board on EU development policy chaired by European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs. He’s published in the Wall Street Journal and DEVEX and written papers on private sector development, food and fragile states. He holds a BA from Allegheny College and MA from the Johns Hopkins University.