Program Overview

The Challenge

Globally, more than 1 billion people are employed in agriculture and the majority are smallholder farmers (SHF) in low-income countries. These farmers usually live in rural areas with limited access to transportation, financial services, and telecommunication. Their challenge is complex: generations of poverty and exclusion, compounded by increased competition over land, over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, lack of available water for irrigation, massive urban migration, and shocks caused by climate change, including floods and drought.  Moreover, demand for smallholder agricultural finance is significant – and largely unmet. Financial institutions are only meeting $50 billion of the more than $200 billion needed for smallholder finance in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia.

Yet smallholder farmers are productive: they account for 80% of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world. In fact, 500 million smallholder farmers who cultivate less than two hectares of land feed one-third of all people on earth.

The Solution

By 2023, Mercy Corps will provide 10 million farmers with the tools and resources to lift themselves out of poverty. Our AgriFin model leverages the power, convenience, and prevalence of mobile phones to help SHF access digital services to boost their harvests and incomes.

We target unbanked and underserved SHF living on less than USD $2.50/day. We support customer-centric design and development of products and services from proof-of-concept stage, to pilot, to scale up. Our target is to achieve at least 50% increase in productivity and income for SHF, with at least 50% of the beneficiaries we reach being women and youth.

Since 2012, Mercy Corps’ AgriFin programming has developed digitally enabled services with private sector partners – reaching 2.6 million SHF across Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

How AgriFin Works

We research the needs of the SHF and bring together partners to develop products and services to meet those needs. We are the consultants/connectors in this process, and have developed deep expertise around how to develop market opportunities where there is economic gain for all.   

Since 2012, we have worked with 70+ private and public sector partners, including mobile network operators, financial institutions, farmer networks, technology innovators, agriculture value-chain players, training organizations, government and other key market stakeholders to build bundles of mobile services for SHF, including:

  • E-learning platforms, so farmers have access to up-to-date information on the best farming practices
  • Access to markets, so farmers get better prices for their produce
  • Financial services, so farmers can invest, grow, and save for the future
  • Digital literacy, so farmers get the most out of the technology

In addition to serving SHF, we are committed to sharing what we learn. Market ecosystem actors and the development community tell us they often lack sufficient information, proven products and tools, and effective models to successfully provide digital financial services to farmers. We aim to fill that gap and provide a public information resource to all who might benefit from it.

Vision for Expansion

Mercy Corps’ global presence in more than 40 countries around the world and our decades of experience building partnerships with local communities, government, and the private sector, led to 28 million people being directly impacted for good in 2018.

We are fueled by this progress, yet sharply motivated to widen, deepen, and scale our impact to improve the lives of millions more around the world. We are committed to expanding AgriFin to 12 additional countries in Sub Saharan Africa, the Americas, and elsewhere, lifting 10 million SHF out of poverty by 2023.