New $35 million competition will enable greater financial inclusion for smallholder farmers in Africa
Friday, August 14, 2015
Nairobi: The MasterCard Foundation has announced the opening of a US$35 million Scaling Competition under its Fund for Rural Prosperity. This is a follow up to the successful Innovation Competition held earlier this year. Both competitions, intended for financial service providers, are designed to improve the lives of at least one million smallholder farmers and people living in poverty in rural areas of Sub-Saharan African countries.
A number of challenges have prevented the financial services and agribusiness sectors from developing and scaling up the financial products and services that farmers and rural poor people need. These challenges include the high costs to traditional financial service providers of doing business in remote areas, the lack of staff know-how to design appropriate products and the fact that many farm families are unaware of the benefits they might obtain by accessing the formal financial system.
Those who make their living from agriculture, either directly or indirectly, make up two-thirds of Africa’s workforce, live largely in rural areas and are among the continent’s most marginalized people. Only about one percent of all commercial bank lending across the continent goes to the agricultural sector.