Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity connects over 5 million people in Sub Saharan Africa to credit facilities
Over five million people living in underserved, rural, or agricultural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa have been introduced to and benefited from access to innovative credit, savings, and transaction-based products and services over the last eight years through the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity.
Offered across Sub-Saharan Africa, the $50 million program in the form of a Challenge Fund was established by the Mastercard Foundation in 2015 to grow the number of Africans actively participating in the continent’s financial systems. The program supported a portfolio of 38 innovative private sector businesses to increase financial inclusion for people living in underserved, rural, or agricultural areas.
The significant results and lessons of this Fund were highlighted and discussed during a recent learning event hosted by Fund managers KPMG in Nairobi. At the daylong gathering, participants engaged and learned from each other’s experiences, deploying innovative financial products and solutions to the most underserved populations across the 15 countries reached by the program.
“The initial target of the Fund was to support one million people but over the life of the program, we saw 5.3 million people accessing it and using financial products and services provided by the participants working in the agribusiness and financial inclusion sectors,” said Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity Engagement Partner at KPMG East Africa, Smita Sanghrajka.
With the program closing out after eight years, the event served as a platform for the participant businesses, the Mastercard Foundation, the Fund management team, and the Fund monitoring and evaluation learning partner to understand the experiences of the various participant businesses involved, and for their collective contribution despite challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sighting the Fund’s impact report Ms. Sanghrajka explained that the participant businesses developed or scaled up over 171 new financial products or services due to Fund interventions, surpassing an initial target of 119 by 43 percent. In the process, at least 5,000 jobs were created, with at least 38 percent of them occupied by women and 78 percent occupied by young people under 35 years of age.
“By using these financial products and services, it is expected that people in rural and agricultural areas will ultimately be better placed to improve and transform their lives for the better,” she added.
All selected participant businesses used innovative business models to overcome accessibility challenges and continued to serve rural communities, particularly smallholder farmers and their households. Their solutions ranged from providing loans and insurance, affordable financing options on agricultural inputs, and using IT-based solutions to improve credit risk scoring. Innovative business models have included various measures such as input financing to pay for a range of commodities or bundling credit with insurance products to cushion smallholder farmers against recent shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, locust invasions, floods, and droughts.
The Fund selected its participants based on various competitive rounds and calls for proposals. The businesses selected were required to have business models with a focus on the development or upscaling of products, services, or processes that increase access to finance for rural people to drive financial inclusion for large numbers of smallholder farmers and rural people.