23 Jan 2019
Tech Blog

Can new technologies reduce the cost of training for Africa’s smallholder farmers, with a significant positive impact on agribusinesses and, therefore, on the farmers they work with? The jury is still out, but the idea was tested recently when AgDevCo’s Smallholder Development Unit (SDU) hosted a Knowledge Sharing Workshop in Kampala.

The workshop, which was part of AgDevCo’s partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to boost incomes of smallholder farmers in seven African countries, brought together agribusinesses, financial service providers, funders, public-sector bodies, and non-governmental organizations that work with smallholder farmers in Uganda. Discussions at the workshop highlighted that many agribusinesses are exploring how best to use new technologies to drive adoption of good agricultural practices and improved yields and production quality.

16 Jan 2019
ISF Advisors

As financial service providers (FSPs) have increasingly targeted smallholder farmers as potential customers, there is a growing need for FSPs to access unique tools and develop new skills to reach this customer segment. To help address this need, an ecosystem of ‘Business Development Services (BDS) providers has developed, at both local and international levels. BDS includes a range of external advisory services that provide or develop the capabilities needed to design, deliver, and support FSPs’ products and operations. This includes a wide range of offerings, such as strategic planning, inclusive business design, data and digitalization, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

To better understand the experiences and perspectives of FSPs who utilize these BDS providers, ISF Advisors surveyed 47 organizations from around the world, predominantly MFIs, commercial banks, NGOs, and social lenders. The respondents were high-level decision makers, over half from the c-suite level, with broad knowledge of and authority over the decision to hire external BDS services. Our online survey collected a range of data on both the organizations’ individual experiences with BDS providers, as well as their assessment of the availability, quality, and affordability of different categories of BDS.

The following highlights from the survey are offered in the hope that all market participants—FSPs, BDS providers, and donors—can better...

14 Jan 2019
Learning Lab

In early December, the Lab pulled together key stakeholders from across the rural and agricultural finance community to learn more about the opportunity for data analytics (DA). Rooted in the Lab’s 2018 research, Big data could mean big opportunity, the workshop explored key themes around barriers to implementing DA solutions, the business case for DA, and opportunities to enable more investments to move the sector forward.

Coming out of the full-day workshop – which included key decision makers from financial service providers (FSPs), digital service providers (DSPs), and funders – five key insights emerged.