21 Sep 2015
Learning Lab

The Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab is pleased to partner with the Initiative for Smallholder Finance (ISF) by sharing its research with the Lab’s community through our platform. ISF’s research -- which focuses on a range of topics in smallholder finance, from local bank lending to technical assistance -- is foundational to anyone working towards an expanded smallholder finance market.

The Initiative for Smallholder Finance was borne from a 2012 report titled “Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance,” which estimated the global demand for smallholder farmer financing at $450 billion. Authored by Dalberg with support from the Citi Foundation and Skoll Foundation, the report helped focus banks, investors, donors, and companies on meeting the financing needs of smallholder farmers around the world.

ISF was created in 2013 to turn the report’s findings into something concrete. Working with a dedicated steering and advisory committee consisting of members from across the smallholder agriculture ecosystem, ISF set out with the goal of making marked progress toward closing the gap between the $450 billion in smallholder financing demand and the current $10-20 billion supply.

To do so, they’ve focused on three areas: developing original research, facilitating connections among...

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)