On March 6 in Dakar, Senegal The MasterCard Foundation hosted a program launch announcing the work of RAF Learning Lab partners ICCO, AgDevCo, and Root Capital. Alongside the program launch the Learning Lab hosted two learning sessions on the opportunity for partnerships and digital tools to unlock smallholder finance. This blog includes a brief summary of the learning sessions alongside presentation materials and relevant resources.  

Learning session 1: Partnerships to unlock growth in smallholder finance

Presenter: Jason Wendle (Lab Director) 

Panelists: N/A

Relevant resources: 

Presentation summary: Jason Wendle framed the afternoon learning sessions by first exploring findings from Inflection Point and the nature of the smallholder finance opportunity and its associated challenges.

Despite these challenges, partnerships between FIs and agribusinesses / tech players prove to be a promising opportunity. Pulling from the Lab's second Learning Brief, Better together: Last mile partnerships for smallholder finance, the presentation summarized findings from the study to demonstrate the opportunity for progressive partnerships at the last mile and the potential for digital products to play an enabling role in sustaining those partnership models. 


Learning session 2: How can digital tools enable smallholder finance? 

Moderator: Mikael Clason Höök (Lab Manager) 

Panelists: Dickson Naftali (Head of KCB MobiGrow), Sieka Gatabaki (Financial Services Manager, Mercy Crops AFA), and Timothy Strong (Regional Agricultural Finance Adviser, Opportunity International) 

Relevant resources: 

Presentation summary: Pulling from the Lab's first Learning Brief The business case for digitally enabled smallholder finance, and real life examples from experts in digital finance in agriculture, the session examined the role that digital tools can play in enabling smallholder finance, and explored how the ecosystem might influence what the digital journey looks like and where it starts.

The session began with a presentation by Mikael Clason Höök summarizing key findings from the RAF LL study on the business case for digitally-enabled smallholder finance. The three panelists followed with brief presentations on the digital innovations their organizations are working on. This introduction helped to set the stage for a panel discussion that explored how the ecosystem can influence an organization's digital journey and the opportunities and challenges of using alternative data for credit scoring.

  • KCB's work with their MobiGrow initiative and the approach the are taking with alternative data.
  • Mercy Corps AFA's  Digifarm and iProcure solutions and how they engage agribusinesses through their technology platforms.
  • Opportunity International's forthcoming SHF digital footprint to enable artificial intelligence credit scoring mechanisms.