2017 & 2018 COMPETITION


There are currently no active competitions for support accepting applications. The fourth and final call ended on 31 January 2018.

This competition took on a rolling format with intermediate closing points for assessment of applications in batches. This gave unsuccessful but potentially good applications in one round the opportunity to refine and resubmit their applications, along with new entrants in the competition. The first submission period closed for evaluation on 10 August 2017, the second on 5 October 2017, the third on 30 November 2017 and the fourth and final call closed on 31 January 2018.

The 2017/2018 Competition sought to support innovative financial products, services or processes from organizations that will design, pilot and test new ideas, as well as those that aim to expand proven ideas into new geographies or a new customer segment in rural and agricultural areas.

Innovation was a key factor in all applications, be they for new ideas or ideas that are ready for scaling. Applications were required to address the following questions:

  • What is the potential for the proposed idea to change access to financial services for smallholder farmers in Africa?
  • What is innovative about your proposed idea? For example, is it new to the financial services sector, new to the country, new to the continent? Perhaps it is even a first in the world? Is there a significant process improvement that changes the way you deliver a service or product?
  • To what extent does the proposed project reach financially underserved markets?
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Djibouti
  • DRC
  • Ethiopia
  • The Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Zambia


Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity only supports ideas from institutions looking to deliver a financial service, product or process to smallholder farmers in an eligible African country (see list of countries above).

Projects may be proposed by a single institution or by a partnership of two or more (which could include a non-governmental organization); however, the lead applicant must be a for-profit entity.

Firms that apply should have an established and verifiable institutional track record. The Fund will only consider start-ups in exceptional circumstances where there is strong evidence that the new company has credible and experienced investors and management team.

Firms that apply should have transparent ownership and governance structures.

Examples of institutions that are eligible include:

  • Banks;
  • Non-bank financial institutions such as insurance or leasing companies;
  • Agribusinesses that provide a financial service or that partner with a financial institution to deliver a financial service to their supply chain;
  • Firms that use mobile or IT technology to support the delivery of financial services to rural poor people; and
  • Firms that provide a non-financial service designed to facilitate increased access to financial services for financially excluded rural poor people. These firms may apply on their own as a lead applicant or may apply in partnership with a financial institution or agribusiness.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Applications from institutions that have a financial service offering are also considered.

Summary of Eligibility Criteria

Eligible projects under the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity were required to meet the following criteria:

  • The proposal was required to be for a project within an institution.
  • Projects could be proposed by a single institution or by a partnership of two or more of them (which could include a non-governmental organization); however, the lead applicant had to be a for-profit entity.
  • Projects for the 2017/2018 Rolling Competition had to take place in one of the countries listed as eligible.
  • Projects had to demonstrate the potential to increase the provision of financial services to smallholder farmers in eligible countries.
  • Applications made to the 2017/2018 Rolling Competition were to be for support of between US$250,000 and US$2,500,000. 

For a quick reference to some of the common questions being asked about the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity, please click here.