Photograph — endgadget

In a bid to extend the reach of its farmers’ initiative to millions of smallholder farmers in Africa, Mastercard has entered into agreements with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF). The announcement was made at the recent Mastercard Farmers Network (MFN) Partner Summit in Kampala, Uganda.

The public-private partnerships (PPPs) will see both partners support the rollout of the MFN platform across Uganda. The innovative solution makes trade much safer and simpler for stakeholders in the agricultural value chain – the farmer, the buyer and the agent.

While connecting small-scale farmers with potential buyers, MFN integrates their businesses with advanced 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. 

Essentially, the technology is a solution for smallholder farmers who ordinarily would struggle to access the market for their goods and financial tools that would enable them to grow their businesses as well as improve their livelihoods.

The network, already live in Tanzania and India, is now operating in Uganda. With over 250,000 farmers on the platform currently, there are plans for further expansion beyond the two countries in Africa, which is the goal of the partnerships.

The partnership with CIAT and USADF will significantly increase Mastercard’s reach to smallholder farmers and the rest of the agricultural ecosystem, the company’s Division President Sub-Saharan Africa, Raghav Prasad revealed, thereby allowing more people enjoy the benefits of a digital economy and empowering them to grow their businesses. “The successful rollout 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,” Prasad said.

On its part, CIAT is looking to support farmers in the bean value chain by scaling up the MFN platform, through its partnership with Mastercard. Working with the payments technology company, the agency 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.

Expressing delight over the digital platform, CIAT’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Debisi Araba said that 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.”

In Uganda, USADF has started using MFN 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. 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. 

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

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