18 Dec 2013
ISF Advisors

This briefing is the second in a series by the Initiative for Smallholder Finance. Read this note to explore what is required for a healthy, competitive smallholder banking sector, and investment opportunities for public and commercial funders seeking to support smallholders.

Local bank lending fails to meet 97% of smallholder demand for financing. To support growth for smallholder farmers, banks must lend at affordable rates, design financial products more appropriately for farmers, and improve accessibility of financial institutions to smallholders. Banks serving rural and agricultural clients could evolve in a more competitive direction marked by greater product and service innovation. In order to make strides towards closing this gap in financing, public and commercial investors can allocate capital to the banks and financial institutions that have the capabilities to grow and innovate.


This briefing’s analysis begins with an overview of the characteristics and capabilities of banks that are well positioned to serve smallholder farmers. Next, the briefing breaks banks into four archetypes, including an assessment of how effectively each archetype serves smallholders. This document also assesses each archetype on its attractiveness to public or commercial investors.

24 Oct 2013
ISF Advisors

The first briefing note in a series from the Initiative for Smallholder Finance provides an overview of the market size and scope of local bank lending to smallholder farmers.


Local bank lending – which should be a main avenue for smallholder financial access – is estimated at $9 billion and meets only 3% of overall demand. This is a small figure and meets less than 3% of the estimated total smallholder financing demand, which is $300 billion excluding China and $450 billion globally. Furthermore, this amount is dwarfed by the $230 billion in total bank lending to the agricultural sector.

In addition to revealing new data on local lending to smallholders, this research assesses the types of financing products offered to smallholder farmers and explores the barriers to provision.

Currently, global development donors have tried to incentivize bank lending to smallholders by focusing on guarantees, but those have not been sufficient to stimulate lending. This briefing note argues why banks need investment funds and technical assistance to build their smallholder banking capabilities and better serve rural and agricultural clients.

06 Aug 2012
Opportunity International

Opportunity blog post in 2012 on its use of mobile banking vans:

Opportunity International’s mobile banks bring high ­impact financial services to the doorsteps of rural farmers.  With 23 banking vans, each with the capacity to serve up to 5,000 clients in rural villages, the mobile banking service enables clients to deposit savings and access their accounts within walking distance of their homes and businesses.

These innovative on­-the-­go banks not only save farmers the cost and time spent traveling to far off bank branches, but provide a safe place to deposit daily earnings.