AgriFin Accelerate is a six year program of Mercy Corps implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia and is funded by the MasterCard Foundation. The program intends to reach one million unbanked smallholder farmers living on less than USD2.0 a day and with less than 5 acres of land with ‘bundled’ digital and financial services to help them improve their food productivity and incomes.
The program intends to address the inclusion gap for smallholder farmers who lack access to affordable, accessible demand driven financial products and services that could drive higher productivity and income for farmers. Despite the potential for smallholder farming to improve economy and livelihood of people, the global demand for smallholder agriculture finance is huge and remains largely unmet and as a result, a majority of smallholder farmers are living on less than USD2.0 a day.
AgriFin Accelerate will link the players in the agriculture value chain, establish a challenge fund for tech companies with promising solutions that could address the current digital gap that the smallholder farmers face, give loans and grants to promising tech startups that have agriculture related solutions, and underwrite costs that will help unblock farmers access to services.
Research and experience shows that digital technology can be a powerful tool to reach smallholder farmers with information, market linkages and financial services with extremely low costs and at sufficient scale. Further it can greatly drive up agricultural productivity gains especially when the entire ecosystem around farmers is also taken into consideration.
Bundling is a strategic approach that joins products or services to sell as a single combined unit referred to as a ‘bundle.’ It allows for convenient purchase of several products or services from one location, reduce service delivery costs while addressing customer awareness and uptake constraints. The program will use this approach to bring together services from various actors along the farming value chain to smallholder farmers. It is a sustainable model mainly because the focus is not on creating a new product, but rather to work with several tried and tested products from for profit, non-profit and government actors to create a friendly ecosystem for smallholder farmers.
The program will work in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. In these three countries, our work will not be tied to a specific geographic region, rather to selected subsectors. Currently indigenous poultry, dairy, fruit trees (avocado and bananas) are under serious consideration.
AgriFin Accelerate will work with farmer groups, micro-finance institutions (MFIs), mobile service networks (MNOs), technology developers, major banks, government extension services departments, providers of value added services from the private sector, research institutions and non-governmental organizations.