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AGRIC BUSINESSCOVER

Firms, MasterCard Foundation Improve Farmers’ Lives

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Three of the leading organizations in Africa working with smallholder farmers today joined The MasterCard Foundation to reaffirm their commitment to provide farmers with more financial resources and agribusiness connections.

This was at a one-day workshop and learning event in Dakar where the partners outlined how the work they are conducting has already led to improvements for farmers in Africa.

Collectively, these three organizations are expanding their support to improve the lives of a minimum of 1.1 million farmers in 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

According to Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation,“Smallholder farmers in Africa, need special attention to increase productivity and break out of their subsistence operation.

“We’re proud to work with such strong partners as AgDevCo, ICCO Cooperation, and Root Capital to enable smallholders to produce more, sell better, and work with local organizations in markets that are fair, transparent, and sustainable,” she further said.

Through its partnerships with AgDevCo, ICCO Cooperation, and Root Capital, The MasterCard Foundation supports multiple activities in the 11 countries. The foundation among others provide training and better quality inputs to farmers,  implement mobile technology solutions and broker long-term purchase contracts

Other activities by the foundation include:  supporting high-impact, early-stage agricultural businesses with capital needs under $150,000 and/or business revenues under $300,000, developing and implementing innovative risk-mitigation tools, and developing new agricultural finance products and services for smallholder farmers.

While commenting, Director of Investments at AgDevCo. , Chris Isaac said:   “Linking smallholder farmers to profitable markets is one of the best ways of lifting large numbers of people out of poverty.

The MasterCard Foundation’s support will allow AgDevCo to connect our SME investees – socially responsible faming and agri-processing enterprises in Africa – to hundreds of thousands of farmers, to boost productivity, lift incomes and improve food security,” he added.

Meanwhile, STARS Director, Netlyn Bernard has said: “The STARS program is supporting rural smallholder farmers, mostly women, to access tailor made financial services,”

“We are using the “Making Markets Work for the Poor” (M4P) approach to ensure that through capacity building and access to finance they can adopt sustainable agri-business methods and be competitive in the market. We believe that given the right opportunities and tools, farmers can become effective entrepreneurs, increase their income and therefore improve the economic situation of their households and of their communities,” the director noted.

The three partnerships are part of The MasterCard Foundation’s portfolio of work supporting smallholder farmers in Africa. To date, the Foundation has committed more than US$300 million to support agricultural initiatives (including US$175 million for rural and agricultural finance projects).

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