Home Agribusiness MasterCard signs deals to open up new opportunities for smallholder farmers across Africa

MasterCard signs deals to open up new opportunities for smallholder farmers across Africa

by Sharon Chepngetich

MasterCard on Wednesday announced the signing of two public-private partnerships that will extend the reach of the MasterCard Farmers Network (MFN) to millions of smallholder farmers in Africa.

Under this partnership, key partners, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), are providing support to further roll out the MFN platform across Uganda making transacting much safer and simpler for many more stakeholders in the agricultural value chain – the farmer, the buyer and the agent.

The MFN is an award-winning, innovative solution that helps to connect small-scale farmers with potential buyers, integrates their businesses with payment systems, and enables them to build a digital transaction record that can be used to access formal credit from banks and other financial institutions.  Without this technology, many smallholder farmers struggle to access the market for their goods and financial tools that would enable them to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

MFN was developed by the MasterCard Lab for Financial Inclusion, one of nine Labs, which serves MasterCard’s Strategic Growth efforts by developing ground-breaking solutions that will impact  millions of people through helping them manage risk better, financially plan for the future and lead empowered lives.

The announcement was made at the MFN Partner Summit in Kampala that showcased unique public-private partnerships (PPP) that will positively impact smallholder farmers and empower the agriculture value chain in Uganda and across the continent through technology.

The MFN platform has already gone live in Uganda, Tanzania and India, with more than 250,000 farmers on the platform currently.

Raghav Prasad, Division President Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, commented; “MasterCard is a trusted network that builds ecosystems through partnerships, which allow us to connect people to, and help them to benefit from, the digital economy. Our partnership with CIAT and with USADF will significantly increase our reach to smallholder farmers and the rest of the agricultural ecosystem, allowing more people enjoy the benefits of a digital economy and empowering them to grow their businesses. The successful roll out of these partnerships in Uganda will bring us closer to our ambition of expanding access to the MasterCard Farmers Network to millions of farmers in Africa and the rest of the world and welcoming them to the financial ecosystem.”

CIAT is working with MasterCard to scale up the MFN platform to support farmers in the bean value chain. Through this partnership, CIAT aims to grow their impact from over 200,000 farmers in East Africa, to over one million farmers in their different African countries of operations by 2020.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Debisi Araba, Regional Director for Africa, CIAT said, “We are delighted today to see the realization of the digital platform dream that connects smallholder farmers, aggregators, processors and banks in East Africa. Smallholder farmers can now enjoy increased profits courtesy of the reduced transaction costs (financial and time wise) and have peace of mind from the secured platform. We are hopeful that women, through the e-payment services, will now have more access and control of their financial resources ultimately transforming the health, nutrition and economic prosperity of their homes and by extension their communities”.

He went on to add that as on organization, CIAT remains committed to partnerships with other likeminded stakeholders to make farming systems more competitive, profitable, and resilient through smarter, more sustainable natural resource management.

USADF has started using MFN in Uganda to help reach underserved communities across all value-chains in the agricultural sector, with a target of adding 20,000 farmers by the end of 2019 and an ambition of growing this to 1 million farmers by end of 2020. This will be achieved by increasing farmer linkages to markets and formal financial services and growing the usage of MFN to millions of smallholder farmers across Africa.

In partnership with MasterCard, USADF is also providing participating farmers with a host of other value-added services, including logistics and transportation, best agronomic practices, as well as access to warehousing facilities. This will be delivered through their implementing partner, the Uganda Development Trust (UDET).

USADF President and Chief Executive Officer, C.D. Glin, commented on the catalytic impact of this partnership model. “Digitizing farmer and market information will jump start efficiency in ways that will transform farmer livelihoods by establishing critical connecting points based on innovations in the agricultural value chain. Ultimately, the use of MasterCard’s technology will help smallholder farmers establish a financial footprint important to improve inclusivity that is vital to their future.”


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