Background and Challenges
Menter a Busnes was commissioned by the Welsh Government Food Division to manage a £5 million grant fund aimed at supporting the recovery of the food and drink sector in Wales, which has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This fund seeks to finance projects that offer innovative solutions for revitalising the Welsh food and drink processing and manufacturing industry.
With disruptions to the supply chain, reduced consumer demand, and business closures, the sector faces significant challenges. The Welsh Government's collaboration with Menter a Busnes underscores their commitment to supporting the industry's long-term sustainability and prosperity.
By providing targeted financial assistance, the fund aims to stimulate growth, enhance resilience, and protect jobs. Menter a Busnes played a vital role in project management and the equitable distribution of grants to eligible businesses. Together, they aimed to empower the sector to adapt, recover, and thrive, contributing to the overall economic recovery of the region. The collaboration showcases the government's proactive measures to support the industry and foster innovation, resilience, and growth in a post-pandemic environment.
Trueman Change Involvement
Trueman Change’s involvement in the management and implementation of the fund has been comprehensive and strategic. We have aligned our efforts with the key objectives set by the Welsh Government and the Food & Drink Wales vision, which aims to create a robust and globally renowned food and drink sector with a socially and environmentally responsible supply chain. Recognising the significance of the food and drink industry as a priority sector, we have built upon the success of previous initiatives, such as the "Towards Sustainable Growth" action plan, which aimed to achieve a value of over £7 billion for the industry by 2020.
Our involvement includes a commitment to the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, ensuring that the projects supported through the fund contribute to the development and sustainable growth of the Welsh food and drink sector. We have employed various methodologies, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, desktop/data analysis, and case studies, to gather comprehensive insights and evaluate the progress and impact of the projects.
In the initial stage, we collaborated closely with individual project leads to define project outputs, establish baselines, and agree upon monitoring and evaluation activities. A mid-term evaluation was conducted to assess project implementation, cost-effectiveness, partnership working, engagement with target audiences, and the need for any modifications considering external factors such as market conditions and Brexit.
We produced a total of three reports: a baseline, interim and final report. These reports were delivered at varying stages of the project’s life cycle and captured progress against project outcomes, appropriateness of grant design and delivery, assessment of short- and long-term benefits and how the project interacts within the wider network of support schemes.
Our work as evaluators and learning partners for this project run concurrently with its delivery and has allowed us to provide valuable recommendations and suggestions, ensuring the projects' success. By establishing strong connections with Menter a Busnes and the grant recipients, we facilitated effective communication and ensured the accuracy of documentation and information. Through our efforts, we produced a comprehensive final report that provides insight into the success and value of the project. We expect this report can be used by policy makers to make decisions about future challenge funds.
Outcomes and Solutions
We established a clear framework for evaluating the outcomes and providing recommendations to improve the design and delivery of any possible future iterations of the fund. Our approach involved producing comprehensive reports that captured the progress and impact of the work packages.
In stage one, our focus was on setting the baseline for the 8 successful projects. We prepared a Baseline Setting Framework Report, which sets out a concise overview of the projects and their objectives. This report served as a valuable reference point for measuring progress.
Moving on to stage two, we conducted a mid-term evaluation of the projects, assessing their implementation and effectiveness. Our findings were presented within our Mid-term Evaluation Report. This comprehensive report considered the progress made, challenges encountered, and lessons learned.
As part of our final evaluation report, we conducted a thorough assessment of the fund to capture the outcomes, identify short and long-term benefits and value for money. The output of this stage was the Final Evaluation Report, which provided a comprehensive analysis of the projects' impacts, successes, and areas for improvement. The report offered valuable insights into the overall effectiveness of the initiatives.
By adopting this rigorous evaluation framework and producing detailed reports, we provided a comprehensive understanding of the projects' outcomes and contribute to their ongoing success.
These reports, along with their Executive Summaries, serve as essential tools for stakeholders to review the progress, make informed decisions, and ensure the continued growth and development of the food and drink sector in Wales.