27 Mar 2018
ISF Advisors, Learning Lab
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Part 9 of ISF’s and RAF Learning Lab’s Pulse series shares highlights from a review of the major donor agendas currently shaping the development of global smallholder finance via grant-based subsidy.

Call it what you will, but in smallholder finance, subsidy is here to stay. Like many nascent markets, particularly those that target bottom of the pyramid consumers, investing in global smallholder finance requires some form of subsidy to mitigate risks and create an investable opportunity. While funders and investors can leverage many different types of subsidy our new ISF Briefing Note examines the dynamics shaping one particular and important form — grant funding from international donors. In 2016, our state of the sector report Inflection Point coined the term “smart subsidy,” referring to the strategic use of private and philanthropic capital to mitigate risks in smallholder investments. Understanding the current subsidy dynamics is a first step on the path to making subsidy “smarter” going forward.


The role of grant-based subsidy in market development

In smallholder finance, subsidy – and more specifically grant-based subsidy – plays a crucial role in accelerating the development of an inclusive market. These subsidies take many forms but can...

27 Mar 2018
ISF Advisors
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The sixteenth Brefing Note in ISF's series aims to assess the role of grant funding in smallholder finance and understand how it can be used to unlock financing for millions of smallholders. 

24 months after the release of Inflection Point we take stock of the global ecosystem and major players working in the field of smallholder finance. Our May 2017 Briefing, The Fund Manager’s Perspective,” established a framework for dedicated facilities and funds, but that is only one segment of a complex capital and philanthropic market. This briefing seeks to complement, and deepen, the perspectives put forth in Inflection Point and previous briefing notes by focusing on another aspect of the ecosystem: the use of grant funding by donors to accelerate the growth of an inclusive smallholder finance market.

Our goal is to bring clarity to this area—laying out the major agendas and organizations that are driving these crucial market development efforts. Having established the landscape of grant funders, we identify a number of ways to streamline and strengthen these efforts as the market continues to develop.

13 Mar 2018
Learning Lab
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The fourth in the Learning Brief series, our latest research aims to help those working in agricultural finance better understand how to influence decision makers. This short brief and related infographic provide six core principles to effectively influence key stakeholders in agricultural finance.

Our 2016 state of the sector report estimates that formal financial institutions and value chain actors only meet one sixth of the USD 200 billion smallholder finance need. To address the gap, stakeholders in the rural and agricultural finance sector need to make bold strategic shifts, such as vastly expanding customer-centric financial services to smallholder farmers, pursuing progressive partnerships, and maintaining a sharp focus on smallholder farmers when scaling innovative models and technologies.

The Lab, in partnership with Dalberg Advisors, identified three stakeholder groups – including  (1) financial service providers, (2) agribusinesses, and (3) value chain innovators – whose strategic shifts would be particularly influential in addressing this gap. This brief and accompanying infographic outlines the six core principles that can help influence decision makers in each of these stakeholder groups in order to help close the smallholder financing gap and bring millions out of poverty. 

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