Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fund ropes 5.3 million people into Formal Financial System

Over five million people living in underserved, rural, or agricultural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa have benefited from access to innovative credit, savings, and transaction-based products   through the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity.

Offered across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Kshs 5 billion (USD50 million) program in the form of a Challenge Fund was set up to grow the number of people actively participating in the financial system across Africa. During its 8-year period from 2015, the program supported a portfolio of 38 private sector businesses to increase financial inclusion through innovative products and services.

“We set out to support one million people but over the life of the program, the fund has impacted 5 times its initial target,”

said Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity Engagement Partner at KPMG East Africa, Smita Sanghrajka.

“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.

Citing 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, nearly 5,000 jobs were created, with at least 38 percent of them created by women and 78 percent created by young people under 35 years of age.

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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 included various measures such as input financing to pay for a range of commodities or bundling credit with

The significant results and lessons of this Fund were highlighted and discussed during a learning event hosted by Fund managers KPMG in Nairobi.  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 event served as a platform for the participant businesses, the Foundation, the Fund management team, and the Fund monitoring and evaluation learning partner to understand the experiences of the various participant businesses involved, and appreciate their collective contribution despite challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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.

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