17 Apr 2019
Learning Lab, Dalberg Design

In 2016, we launched an initiative to collect insights from our partners. Our approach involved reviewing partner documents and interviewing  each partner to understand key “lessons learned” from their programs. 

04 Mar 2019
ISF Advisors
Farmland aerial

Most of us have gotten caught in the rain without an umbrella or spent a morning commute sweltering in a heat wave. But for the millions of smallholder farmers around the world, the stakes run much higher than a soaked shirt. Weather is just one of many disruptive shocks that have the potential to destroy a crop and ruin a farmer’s season.

That’s where agricultural insurance comes in. By paying out after ‘occasional events with large economic impacts’, such as extreme weather and pest activity, agricultural insurance offers two potential benefits. First, it helps farmers avoid devastating financial losses in the event of a disruptive shock. Second, it limits the downside risk for smallholders investing in their own productive capacity. After all, if there is a good chance that new improved seeds won’t germinate because of drought, it can be hard to validate the extra expense. Insurance can ease farmers’ concerns about investing in technologies and improvements that are crucial for advancing their economic standing over time.

Sounds good, right? We think so too. ISF believes that agricultural insurance is an important financial service that both protects farmers and can help improve their productivity over time. And we’re not alone. In response to increasing market interest, and with the support of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, ISF developed a report entitled, “...

31 Jan 2019
ECLOF-Kenya, Learning Lab, IDH Farmfit
The MasterCard Foundation_Kampala
Authorship: Mary Munyiri, CEO ECLOF-Kenya

If you’re working in rural and agricultural finance, “impact” is the name of the game. For many of us, we’ve chosen to work in this complex market with the primary intent to lift smallholders out of poverty and elevate rural economies. And while our passion is there and our hearts in the right place, the hard truth is that business realties can often make it difficult to drive impact in a financially sustainable way.

Take it from me. As CEO of ECLOF Kenya – a leading microfinance institution in Kenya – running a business in a risky market is no easy task. To serve smallholders well and to keep your business afloat, good intent is not enough. That’s why we teamed up with IDH Farmfit and the Mastercard Foundation RAF Learning Lab to shed light on the financial sustainability of our business model and map out a clear business case for serving Kenya’s smallholders.

Here are a four key insights from IDH and the Lab’s assessment of our service delivery business model that will inform how we shape our strategy in the coming years.