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Cases Publications

Building and Scaling a Cross-Sector Partnership: Oxfam America and Swiss Re Empower Farmers in Ethiopia

Case Abstract


After several years of preparation, in May 2009, Oxfam America (an international relief and development organization) and Swiss Re (a leading global reinsurer) along with other partners piloted Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation. HARITA is an innovative model designed to help propel some of the poorest farmers in Ethiopia out of poverty by helping them cope with weather-related risk. Oxfam’s goal for HARITA was to develop a scalable model that could be disseminated throughout developing countries across the globe to help farmers deal with the effects of drought and other challenges associated with climate change.


Swiss Re served initially as a funder and technical advisor for HARITA but also engaged in the project to better understand insurance markets in the developing world. This case provides a personal account of two key actors: David Satterthwaite (Oxfam) and Mark Way (Swiss Re). Although many cross-sector collaborations reach the pilot stage, “scaling” offers a new set of challenges because it inherently requires greater commitments and entails greater risks for both partners. This case places students in the shoes of Oxfam’s Satterthwaite as he prepares for a critical meeting with Way about a dramatic expansion plan for HARITA in Ethiopia and beyond.


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