17 Sep 2018
ISF Advisors
Farmland aerial

A new landscape report by ISF Advisors, with support from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, highlights the current status and future development of agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers. Based on interviews with more than forty-five key agricultural insurance stakeholders, our research paints a picture of an industry that shows great potential but struggles to achieve the necessary scale and product-level refinements.  

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In the past ten years, the field of smallholder finance has grown in both size and complexity. As new players and products have entered the market around the world, there is an ever-present need to understand the many innovative business models and product classes that are developing to support smallholder farmers in their quest for economic advancement.


One of these emerging product classes is agricultural insurance in developing nations. Historically, smallholders have had limited access to risk-management options, but increasingly, formalized agricultural insurance is...

10 Aug 2018
ICCO Cooperation

The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program, a five year initiative of ICCO Cooperation and in partnership with The Mastercard Foundation,  aims to transform the lives of 210,000 farmers, 50% of them are women, in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Senegal and will have an overall impact in the lives of over 1 million people.

To inform their work ICCO recently published a Credit Pilot Deep Dive (CPDD) which investigates differences in the uptake and impact of newly developed agricultural credit products on smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso Using a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach, based on household survey triangulated with focus group discussions (FSG), this study aims to provide the STARS program, and participating MFIs, an enhanced understanding of their client base.

More specifically, the Burkina Faso CPDD study provides a deeper understanding of the 50,500 (50% women) smallholder farmers, and their households, in the STARS Burkina Faso program. This CPDD study focuses on two main zones and credit products, namely sesame loans in the Banfora area and soy loans in the Pô area. The participating farmers have been categorized in groups, namely farmers who have applied for and...

26 Jul 2018
Kiva Labs
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By: Goldie Chow, Kiva Labs

Closing the USD 150 billion smallholder finance is no easy feat – but it is possible. With 450 million smallholders worldwide, key stakeholders such as financial and digital service providers, will need to develop new solutions and scale existing ones to help close the gap.

While this directive may sound obvious, the reality is that innovation and scale come with inherent risks, often leading to failure for many bold entrepreneurs. To many, this narrative is daunting. But if we as a community believe that innovation will close the smallholder finance gap, we should be prepared for failure, and be willing to share our lessons learned with the broader sector.

Building the case for failure 

Across the RAF community, data on our collective failures has historically missed the mark – and for understandable reasons. Most financial solutions in the RAF community rely on outside funding from foundations, government agencies, or civic donations. As such, publishing a case study about an organization’s failings could result in reputational damage, potentially jeopardizing future funding. But both funders and providers need to recognize that the analysis and lessons learned from a given failure are critical for propelling the industry forward. Most organizations in the RAF community are running against time in their mission to close the gap and make an impact. As a result, every scarce resource counts, making it...