14 Mar 2017
Learning Lab
WAPL Panel Session

On March 6 in Dakar, Senegal The MasterCard Foundation hosted a program launch announcing the work of RAF Learning Lab partners ICCO, AgDevCo, and Root Capital. Alongside the program launch the Learning Lab hosted two learning sessions on the opportunity for partnerships and digital tools to unlock smallholder finance. This blog includes a brief summary of the learning sessions alongside presentation materials and relevant resources.  

Learning session 1: Partnerships to unlock growth in smallholder finance

Presenter: Jason Wendle (Lab Director) 

Panelists: N/A

Relevant resources: 

07 Mar 2017
Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa
Ag leasing

New research from Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSDA) and Nathan Associates highlights agricultural lease finance as a way to expand access to finance for smallholders, allowing for greater mechanization of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. This blog summarizes some of the key opportunities and barriers to uptake and usage of lease finance - concluding with the recommendation of a potential fund that would help share the initial costs of agricultural equipment.

[Download full report here]

By Ashley Olson Onyango

In rural sub-Saharan Africa, working in agriculture tends to be an extremely labor-intensive job with high risk and low payoff. As a result, new generations of farmers and other entrepreneurs are often deterred from pursuing a career in agriculture. This leaves the agricultural industry with ageing farmers and declining agricultural production. One potential solution, however, is the mechanization of farming which can help decrease the need for hard, manual labor, while also improving production, household incomes, and livelihoods. A shift to tractors and other machine-powered equipment is part of a broader strategy to improve rural...

06 Mar 2017
Learning Lab, Initiative for Smallholder Finance

Smallholder farmers are more sophisticated than we initially anticipated them to be. Their needs, aspirations, expectations and goals differ sharply even within closely knit communities.

      – Startup serving smallholders in West Africa

One of the biggest obstacles to financing smallholder farmers has been understanding who they are and – by extension – what their needs are. Without detailed data, it has sometimes been difficult for people sitting far away in donor programs to see the ways in which farmers are a heterogeneous and varied group.

However, as seen in Dalberg’s 2011 Listening to the Farmer Voice and CGAP’s 2013 Segmentation of Smallholder Households, the sector has begun to identify key distinctions among farmers including their place in a skill-will matrix and their relationship to the market. With this information, financial service providers could begin to define and target addressable market segments. It was a great start to a new way of thinking. CGAP’s 2016 work on two fronts – granular exploration of farmers’ lives in the Smallholder Diaries and the rigorous quantitative National Surveys...