Based on the impact of COVID-19 on the Fund portfolio and beneficiaries this competition was open to existing participants only and provided opportunity for potential recovery and resilience support. This competition reinforced the Fund's commitment towards ensuring that financial services continue to deliver value to people living in - and connected with - the rural economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, and supports them through the crisis towards prosperous and sustainable livelihoods. The competition closed on 30 June 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in economic and labour market shocks in countries within which the Fund participants work. At the onset of the pandemic, at least 20% of active participants had experienced major business disruption with some sections of their businesses having to close, or participants in the earlier stages of implementation having to suspend customer acquisition activities. Over 30% (largely agribusinesses) had to pause training and supporting activities to farmers and access to markets was hampered by travel restrictions amongst other challenges.

Aligning to the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme, the Fund saw the need to deliver a critical intervention in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and so launched a COVID-19 Recovery & Resilience Challenge. The overarching aim of the rapid-response intervention was to support Fund participants and the rural communities in which they operate (particularly women and youth beneficiaries) to withstand the initial shocks of the crisis, and to enable economic recovery and build resilience for future waves of the pandemic or similar crises. Three specific funding areas (all applications were required to address at least 1) were identified based on careful and rigorous analysis of how the Fund participants were being affected by the crisis, and the immediate needs of participant organisations and their customers:

  1. Adapting business operations through rapid adoption of digital technology to overcome accessibility challenges and business disruptions caused by the pandemic and continue to serve rural communities;
  2. Supporting income retention and job creation, and improving resilience for affected workers, and
  3. Providing bridging finance and liquidity support to affected communities, particularly smallholder farmers who urgently require access to inputs in order to secure their crop for the coming season.

The COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience challenge received submissions from 32 participant organisations and resulted in 12 projects receiving financial support amounting to approx. US$ 2.4 million. The 12 projects are implemented their approaches in 9 different countries across East, Southern, and West Africa. The COVID-19 Recovery & Resilience portfolio includes:


Recovery and Resilience focus

Participant Page

Inuka Africa

Support the digitisation of Inuka's loan process, and co-fund the re-employment of sales agents.

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Support the digitisation of Enviu's training process and their savings


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Pula Advisors

Support the provision of input top-up loans to their portfolio of smallholder farmers.

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Develop market linkages and access to inputs for smallholder farmers.


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Support the digitisation of FutureLink's service to SACCOs.


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Introduce insurance and a living wage policy for their network of sales agents.


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Develop a diaspora payments platform and centralised customer information platform to better support customers falling behind on repayment.

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Facilitate access to soap and PPE for their palm oil outgrowers, support an ongoing land titling process, provide insurance, and improve access to inputs.

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Rwanda Trading Company

Restart training and provide improved access to inputs for smallholder coffee farmers.

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Prothem Usine

Support emergency financial products to farmers, investment into worker health and safety.

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Easy Solar

Develop a diaspora payments platform, support the digitisation of field registration processes, and revising terms with customers.

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Sprint Money

Establish digital hubs to increase the accessibility of digital financial services, introduce an agent retention scheme, and develop strengthened health and safety processes to mitigate against the pandemic.

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