This Competition was open to receive applications from organizations aiming to design, pilot, test, and launch new financial products and services that could effectively meet the financing needs of people living in poverty in rural and agricultural areas.

Considerations of an innovative idea

  • The potential for the proposed idea to change access to financial services for smallholder farmers in Africa
  • In what way is the proposed idea new? 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.
  • To what extent did the proposed project intend to reach financially underserved markets?

Click on the respective link to read about the previous winners in 2015 and 2016 competitions.

The following countries were eligible:

  • 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


The 2015 Innovation Competition ran from 20 January 2015 to 15 March 2015. The 2016 Innovation Competition ran from 1 February 2016 to 28 March 2016.


Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity was set up to provide support for ideas from institutions looking to deliver a financial service, product or process to smallholder farmers in any of the selected eligible African countries.  

A single institution or a partnership of two or more (which could include a non-governmental organization) could propose a project; however, the lead applicant was required to be a for-profit entity.

Applying firms were required to have an established and verifiable institutional track record. The Fund only considered start-ups in exceptional circumstances where there was strong evidence that the new organization had credible and experienced investors and management team.

Applying firms were required to have transparent ownership and governance structures in place.

Examples of eligible institutions included:

  • 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 providing non-financial service designed to facilitate increased access to financial services for financially excluded rural poor people. These firms could apply on their own as lead applicants or in partnership with financial institutions or agribusinesses.
Summary of Eligibility Criteria

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

  • The proposal had to be for a project within an institution.
  • Projects be proposed by a single institution or by a partnership of two or more institutions; however, the lead applicant was required to be a for-profit entity
  • Proposed projects for the Innovation Competition had to take place in one of the countries listed as eligible.
  • Proposed Scaling Competition projects had to take place in one of the eight core eligible countries. Projects had to demonstrate potential to increase the provision of financial services to the financially excluded rural poor in target countries.
  • Applications made to the Innovation Competition were for grants of between US$250,000 and US$1,000,000. For the Scaling Competition, applications financial support request was between US$750,000 and US$2,500,000. 


Download the innovation brochure.