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Innovative Agri-Finance Challenge Fund Playbook

The Innovative Agri-Finance Challenge Fund Playbook is a collaborative effort to assist challenge fund managers, implementers, technical assistance providers, donors and other stakeholders in managing challenge funds effectively and improving the design and implementation of future challenge fund mechanisms.

This playbook explores key features, guiding principles, lessons learned, and key recommendations from the experiences of the MEDA INNOVATE initiative, and the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity. Both seek to address constraints to financial inclusion challenges in the developing world, specifically among rural and smallholder farming populations. MEDA INNOVATE is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Fund is an initiative of the Mastercard Foundation.

Challenge funds have proven their effectiveness in global development for stimulating innovation, encouraging managed risk-taking, and leveraging the capabilities of the private sector in partnership with donors and fund managers. That being said, donors and fund managers regularly analyse and question the mechanism’s effectiveness towards ensuring that sustainability, replication, and scale-up continue beyond the lifetime of the grant funding. Effective design and management of challenge funds can help contribute to success.

This playbook will find practical insights and guidance. The playbook focuses on three key themes: innovation, managing for success, and sustainable impact. In doing so, it discusses key features and guiding principles used in the design and management of two challenge funds.

The playbook shares lessons and makes the following recommendations for improving the impact of challenge funds:

  • Foster attitudinal change towards risk investment
  • Stimulate the ecosystem beyond the funded enterprises
  • Allocate sufficient time to achieve significant results
  • Shift reliance on donor funding to dependence on commercial viability
  • Build learning into the fund design to capture lessons from the funded models

Download the full playbook below.

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