The Scaling Community of Practice (CoP) launched an action research initiative on mainstreaming scaling in funder organizations in January 2023. This initiative has three purposes: to inform the CoP members and the wider development community of the current state of support for and operationalization of scaling in a broad range of development funding agencies; to draw lessons for future efforts to mainstream the scaling agenda in the development funding community; and to promote more effective funder support for scaling by stakeholders in developing countries. (For further details about the Mainstreaming Initiative, see the Concept Note on the COP website). 

For the purpose of this study, scale is defined as sustainable impact at a significant share of the need, demand, or problem. Scaling is the process of reaching scale. Mainstreaming of scaling is defined as the systematic consideration by the funder of the scaling process in the appraisal of a project, in the decision to fund it, and in the monitoring and evaluation of the project’s implementation.  

The Mainstreaming Initiative is jointly supported by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Scaling Community of Practice (CoP). The study team consists of Richard Kohl (Lead Consultant and Project Co-Leader), Johannes Linn (Co-Chair of the Scaling CoP and Project Co-Leader), Larry Cooley (Co-Chair of the Scaling CoP),  and Ezgi Yilmaz (Junior Consultant). MSI staff provide administrative and communications support, in particular Leah Sly and Gaby Montalvo.

The principal component of this research is a set of case studies of the efforts to mainstream scaling by selected funder organizations. These studies explore the extent and manner in which scaling has been mainstreamed, and the major drivers and obstacles. The case studies also aim to derive lessons to be learned from each donor’s experience, and, where they exist, their plans and/or recommendations for further strengthening the scaling focus. 


This case study is on the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture’s (SFSA) scaling journey. As SFSA has itself evolved, so too has its work on scaling. The Foundation has become more intentional in scaling solutions and incorporating thinking on scaling into its strategies and ways of working. This case study captures SFSA’s scaling experience, lessons to date, learning for others, and future areas to explore. The case study is independently written. It primarily draws on 14 interviews with SFSA staff and six with partners and external actors, as well as using SFSA reports and strategy documents. The interviews and document reviews took place within about four weeks. The case study seeks to surface issues, ideas and learning rather than provide an in-depth analysis of the issues raised. There has been no formal process to triangulate the interview insights. The study reflects a variety of opinions and observations rather than an official SFSA position.


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