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Technology

Mercy Corps and Mastercard Foundation take fintech to farmers

Over 90 per cent of farmers use mobile phones to access financial services. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Over 90 per cent of farmers use mobile phones to access financial services. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Humanitarian agency Mercy Corps is partnering with Mastercard Foundation to push for adoption of technology to benefit millions of small-scale Kenyan farmers for better food production and ending perennial shortages.

Mercy Corps’ Agrifin Accelerate Programme is a $25 million (Sh2.5 billion) project that is running for six years and will benefit Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania.

It is supported by the Mastercard Foundation and is aimed at helping to close the gap in access to financial services, information and market services.

They have hosted more than 200 participants from around the world this week in Nairobi to accelerate the use of technology and make farming profitable.

They provide a platform to assess digital financial services to smallholder farmers, discuss trends and opportunities and engage on enhancing last mile service for farmers.

At the forum, leading experts on financial inclusion from banks, mobile network operators, agribusinesses, tech innovators, governments and development partners from Kenya and across Africa engaged the audience.

Key speakers included executives from the Mastercard Foundation, the World Food Programme, Google, Safaricom, Equity Bank, FarmDrive and SunCulture.

“In Kenya, our 2017 study of smallholders found that over 90 per cent of farmers use mobile phones to access financial services and information regardless of education, gender or age and the use of smart phones is also on the rise,” said Leesa Shrader, programme director at Mercy Corps Agrifin Accelerate.

“Moving forward, mobile will become even more important for farmers to access markets, critical services like transportation and crop disease management tools — helping drive up farmer productivity and income,” said the official. 

Olga Morawczynski, programme manager for financial inclusion at the Mastercard Foundation, said they were impressed Africa was making progress in innovations that support farmers’ access to financial services.

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