19 Sep 2015
Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps Agri-Fin Mobile program presents a "bundled" technology option to help smallholders overcome common obstacles to mobile technology:

Mobile technology has quickly transformed the way farmers cultivate and care for their crops. However, many rural smallholder farmers are still plagued by lack of access to these new technologies, as well as a steep learning curve to incorporating them into daily life. Mercy Corps Agri-Fin Mobile program - which inspired the Agri-Fin Accelerate program - presents a "bundled" technology option to help overcome these hurdles.

Mercy Corps launched Agri-Fin Mobile in 2012 with the goal of bringing together local mobile tech companies, financial institutions and research organizations to provide “bundled” support for smallholder farmers. Agri-Fin Mobile integrates local financial services, market information and agricultural tips into an easy-to-use, comprehensive mobile phone-based package.

In partnering with local providers, Agri-Fin Mobile (and Agri-Fin Accelerate) can address unique geographical challenges.  In addition to refraining from a one-size-fits-all model, bundling together local services also helps create a sustainable network by providing businesses with an incentive to get involved and increases their credibility with customers. 

18 Sep 2015
ISF Advisors

A number of new technologies have emerged to help investors with data collection, and the Initiative for Smallholder Finance explores five of these that are taking the pain out of smallholder data collection:

Investors often lack sufficient data about the benefits and risks of directing their funds to smallholder agricultural finance. Without this information, investors have little evidence about and therefore little understanding of how to provide smallholder agricultural markets with the finance they need.

But data collection isn't easy. The following technologies are helping investors collect and utilize data to better understand their market:

  • Acopio (presented by Fair Trade USA)
  • EchoMobile
  • Geotraceability
  • Scope Insight
  • Taro Works (presented by Grameen Foundation)

18 Sep 2015
ISF Advisors

This briefing note from the Initiative for Smallholder Finance provide detail on how 150+ finance providers are offering finance directly to smallholder farmers:

Direct-to-farmer finance is one channel of reaching smallholder farmers, but it can be challenging for banks not already serving those customer segments. This research from ISF offers an overview on how financial service providers are succeeding with this model.

The research:

  • Introduces four distinct business model archetypes that financial providers deploy to reach smallholder farmers
  • Highlights common practices and challenges financial providers face as they try to serve smallholders with appropriate financial products
  • Identifies ways that successful direct-to-farmer finance models can reach sustainable scale through learning, knowledge sharing and innovation