Business Support

It is widely recognised that poor clients need more than finance to break out of conditions of poverty. In the first instance they may need to overcome health problems and malnutrition. Then they may have complicated decisions to make in terms of how to earn money, whether to develop new enterprises, which technologies to adopt, where to sell produce, how to react to problems, how to manage multiple demands on limited cash resources and how to build up assets for security or larger investments. Thus an ideal situation would see rural households receiving a coordinated combination of services to improve their health, nutrition, family planning, education, business activities and so on. Many development organisations that have moved into the provision of microfinance, do also provide other services. However, if they need to cover costs and remain financially viable, it raises questions about whether or not non-banking services can be provided on a sustainable basis. There are a number of successful "credit with education" models, which use the group-based approach to microfinance as an opportunity to provide low-cost education services to clients. There has also been a growing interest in providing business development services as a commercial enterprise in recent years and experience and innovations have been increasing in this field.

Library Resources

resource title type year resource
Agent Networks at the Last Mile: A Guide for Digital Finance to Reach Rural Customers Document 2019

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This resource appears in: Business Support, Business Support Services: General, Agribusiness and enterprise support, Business planning, Remittances and payments

Most digital financial services users around the world live in cash-based societies, and they require a cheap and easy way to switch between the worlds of cash and digital currency. Agent networks that provide this service tend to cluster around urban and peri-urban areas and larger rural towns. However, global evidence shows that emerging agent network business models are improving agent viability in remote areas home to many of the world's poor, financially excluded populations. 

Based on an analysis of these models, this report describes six principles for effective cash-in/cash-out agent networks at the last mile and highlights examples of where they are being applied throughout the world. Digital financial services providers, policy makers, and regulators will find concrete recommendations for putting these principles into practice to advance financial inclusion.

Pathways to prosperity: 2019 rural and agricultural finance state of the sector report Report 2019

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This resource appears in: Business Support, Business Support Services: General, Agribusiness and enterprise support, Business planning, Equity investments in agribusiness

Despite significant progress in the rural agricultural finance sector, financial service providers are still unable to meet the full USD 240 billion demand of rural households for agricultural and non-agricultural finance. The latest data suggests that providers are currently supplying approximately USD 70 billion. This leaves around USD 170 billion —or 70%—of the global demand for smallholder finance unmet. This gap cuts across all geographic regions and financing types, but is particularly concentrated in long-term agricultural finance, for which 98% of global demand remains unmet. As with the direct-to-smallholder finance market, there is a large gap when it comes to lending to agricultural SMEs. There is no comprehensive global sizing of the demand and supply for lending to agricultural SMEs, but recent analyses have painted a stronger picture of how the market functions and illustrate why—despite agricultural SMEs playing a vital role in economic development—financial service providers limit their lending to these clients.

In recent years, new financing products have begun to penetrate rural markets. These include the rise of lending “innovators”—fintechs and mobile network operators that deliver credit directly to rural households through digital channels, holding the associated credit risk on their own balance sheet. While these innovators have great potential to address customer pain points and reach unserved customer segments, they currently represent a small portion of the lending market. At the same time, there’s been an emergence of new models of agricultural insurance, digital payments, and savings accounts. With greater breadth, depth and innovation in rural financial services than ever before there are new opportunities emerging to close the persistent rural finance gap.

Author Matt Shakhovskoy of ISF Advisors, and Clara Colina and Mikael Clason Höök of the Mastercard Foundation Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab
Publisher The Mastercard Foundation, USAID, and Small Foundation
Number of Pages 61 pages
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Rural and Agriculture Finance
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Estrategias de retención de Asesores/as de Crédito en organizaciones de finanzas populares Paper 2015

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This resource appears in: Business Support

El estudio identifica las estrategias de retención que implementan las organizaciones de finanzas populares que conforman la Red Financiera Rural con el fin de  garantizar la permanencia de sus asesores de crédito. La investigación fue descriptiva,  utilizó a cuatro organizaciones sin fines de lucro como universo de estudio y a 15 asesores/as de crédito como unidad de análisis. Para la recolección de información se utilizaron cuestionarios aplicados a las direcciones de talento humano al equipo de asesores de crédito cuya principal contraparte es en gran medida la población rural, para en base a ello identificar la existencia de estrategias de retención orientadas a este grupo, los elementos que las integran, así como las expectativas de los asesores/as de crédito en torno a la existencia y definición de estrategias de retención.

Author Vaca Espín, M. A.
Publisher Universidad de Belgrano
Number of Pages 134
Primary Language Spanish (es)
Region / Country Global, South America
Keywords Ecuador, Asesores de Crédito
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Case Study: The Return on Investment from Technoserve's Coffee Initiative Case Study 2015

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This resource appears in: Business Support


This Initiative for Smallholder Finance briefing is the ninth in a series about catalyzing smallholder finance. In our previous two briefing notes, we offered an overview of the anatomy of the market for agricultural technical assistance in developing countries and discussed the linkages between technical assistance and smallholder financing. Those briefings emphasized the importance of increasing coordination among actors to improve knowledge transfer, share best practices and lessons learned, and improve the quality of technical assistance delivery. 

In that spirit, this briefing offers a case study of a TechnoServe project aiming to increase incomes of smallholder coffee farmers in East Africa. Although the project was complex and produced many lessons to share, this briefing focuses in particular on the value of technical assistance to increase access to finance, crowd-in the private sector, achieve scale, and generate value for an industry. 

Author The Initiative for Smallholder Finance
Publisher The Initiative for Smallholder Finance
Number of Pages 10 p.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords return on investment, Agricultural Finance, Agribusiness Finance, Access To Finance
Related Resources
Technical Assistance for Smallholder Farmers: An Anatomy of the Market Brief 2014

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This resource appears in: Business Support

This Initiative for Smallholder Finance briefing is the seventh in a series about catalyzing smallholder finance, and presents an overview of the different forms of technical assistance for farmers in the developing world. Technical assistance is critical to smallholder financing because it is the nearest adjacent market and has complementary linkages to financing. A forthcoming briefing will discuss these linkages to financing in more detail. 

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