The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity participated in the ninth annual Alliance for a Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra, Ghana with the objective of creating awareness of the Fund portfolio and its impact and learnings so far on the journey to improve financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Forum took place at the Accra International Conference Centre on 3-6 September 2019, hosting over two thousand delegates from nearly 90 countries. The theme of the event was GROW DIGITAL: Leveraging Digital Transformation to Drive Sustainable Food Systems in Africa.
The AGRF Forum was hosted under the leadership of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana. Co-hosts included the 23 members of the AGRF Partners Group (under the Chairmanship of Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman of Econet Group), with AGRA serving as the AGRF Secretariat. Additional resources and technical support were provided by another 19 partners and sponsors including the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity, that contributed to programmatic content.
The Forum was attended by several former Heads of State leading the continental agenda, including the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria; H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia; H.E. Lionel Zinsou, Former Prime Minister of Benin; and Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Former President, African Development Bank. Other Forum leaders and speakers included heads of international agencies and CEOs of global, regional and national business companies within and outside of Africa. Also in attendance were ministers of agriculture from across Africa; ministers and senior government officials from Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Germany, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States; and influential business leaders and representatives from financial institutions, agribusiness firms, farmer associations, civil society organizations, NGOs, media, research institutions, development and technical partners, and the growing ranks of young agriculture entrepreneurs and youth leaders.
In discussions highly relevant to over fifteen Fund participants in attendance as well as other delegates, the Forum made it clear that the coordinated efforts of public and private sector actors can unlock the potential of advances in everything from big data to block chain systems, drones, robotics, and machine learning platforms to overcome many different challenges and generate a host of new opportunities, particularly for Africa’s young, digitally-savvy entrepreneurs. Digital technologies were seen as capable of addressing issues that have been major barriers to tapping agriculture’s potential to provide a host of new economic opportunities across the continent.
The Fund participated in the Forum in a number of ways, including sponsoring and participating in a panel discussion around smallholder financing, supporting a number of participants to attend, and taking up exhibition booth space for 2 participants to exhibit and network.
The Fund was represented at the Forum by a number of team members including Smita Sanghrajka, Partner KPMG IDAS, Milton Lore, Team Leader of the Fund, Wambui Chege, Agribusiness Director, KPMG, Kevin Genga of Nathan Associates, and Project Manager on the Fund, Tim Hobden, IPE Tripleline and Anne Maftei of Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab. In addition, 15 Fund participants were able to attend at least a day at the Forum, with some going on to form direct relationships with other organisations and investors.
At the event, the President of the Mastercard Foundation, Reeta Roy, announced a new US $500 million commitment within its Young Africa Works initiative, which will support efforts of young entrepreneurs across the continent to develop economic opportunities in agriculture. Through Young Africa Works, the Foundation will endeavour to help millions of young Africans to find meaningful employment in agriculture. The new investment will raise the Foundation’s total commitments to African agriculture to US $1 billion.
Reeta Roy, CEO and President of Mastercard Foundation, announcing a US $500 million commitment to ensure young people secure dignified and fulfilling work in agriculture.
To read more about the AGRF2019, visit www.agrf.org
4 September 2019.
The Fund sponsored and participated in an engaging session on 4 September 2019, under the theme ‘Making Digital Smallholder Finance Attractive to Private Investors’. Leesa Shrader, AgriFin Accelerate Director, Mercycorps moderated the panel discussion. There were 6 panelists; Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali, Marianne Schoemaker, CEO Rabo Partnerships, Rabobank Netherlands, Mr. Kamal Yukub, CEO, Trotro Tractors Ghana, Milton Lore, Team Leader, Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity, and two Fund participants; Alloysius Attah, Co-Founder and CEO, Farmerline, and Elorm Allavi, Co-Founder and CEO, Syecomp, Ghana.
The Fund Team Leader, Milton Lore highlighted key achievements of the Fund through its disbursements of over $40 million to 38 companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, several of which are now attracting further investment. He noted that many of the private sector businesses supported are using technology platforms and digital financing services as they work with farmers.
FRP team leader, Milton Lore, sharing the key achievements of the Fund
When prompted about what could improve access to finance beyond proof of concept, Milton noted that a key aspect was improving information sharing – between investors and organisations working with farmers.
Kamal Yukub and Trotro tractors spoke about the need for continued farmer education and to constantly build trust and relationships with farmers, without assuming access to finance via digital technology would automatically lead to more use.
The panel went on to discuss open APIs, and their necessity for service providers tapping into farmer databases and platforms. Elorm Allavi, CEO of Fund supported project, Syecomp, emphasized that a lot of work was still needed to be done protect both the farmer and organisations collecting or using data.
Fund Team Leader, Milton Lore (fifth from left), Syecomp CEO, Elorm Allavi (sixth) and Aloysius Attah, CEO Farmerline (right) taking part in the engaging panel session at the AGRF.
The interesting discussion was brought to a close by Hedwig Siewertsen, Head of Inclusive Finance, AGRA, who summarised the key aspects of the discussion, and the preceding sequence, where the Fund partner Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, represented by Mikael Hook spoke to a new report coming out on the pathways to prosperity. Mikael presented a new way of thinking about rural clients, using rural transition pathways to capture the development trajectories smallholder farmers may take.
Mikael Hook, Director at the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, discussing about the rural transition pathways approach to rural financing.
3-5 September 2019.
In addition to sponsoring a panel discussion, the Fund also commissioned an exhibition space area utilised by two of its Ghanaian based participants, Farmerline and Syecomp over the course of the event. The exhibition area was suitably located along pathways to various meeting and conference rooms and allowed both participants to put up and share their marketing collateral. In addition, both participants used the available flatscreen to run video content and presentations attracting further interest. The Fund also used the exhibition space to share some of its own materials, creating awareness of its objectives and results so far, and using the opportunity to network and engage.
Farmerline showcased its digital credit and information services that are helping rural farmers gain access to high quality inputs, financial literacy and improved agricultural practices.
Team members from Farmerline explaining their 399 services to participants at the AGRF exhibition booth.
Syecomp showcased its MFarmPay service that leverages on remote sensing satellite data, demographic data, environmental data, farm data and analytics capabilities to generate alternative credit assessments of farmers.
Team members from Syecomp Ghana explaining their MFarmPay services to participants at the AGRF exhibition booth.
At the stand, Syecomp used a Virtual Reality Headset, to give visitors a 3D walk-through of a cocoa farm. The realistic experience allowed users to better understand what is involved in growing and harvesting cocoa for use.
Over the three day period, both participants received a lot of interest and engagement from delegates visiting the booth. This engagement points to potential outcomes in the form of B2B partnerships, knowledge sharing, or even future investment. In addition, the Fund itself created awareness of its overall focus and impact results to date, and established new contact relationships, potentially able to support the Fund as a whole or its participants in future.
Article written by Colin Azavedo, Communications Consultant, Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity.