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Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide

by Opportunity International
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Agriculture Finance: Invest in Farmers Worldwide
Meet Musah
Meet Musah

“I never went to school. When I was a child, I never had the opportunity to, but some of my friends did, and I see the improvements in their lives. I think it is important to educate my children, so they can learn skills and have more choices for their futures.”

Musah is a maize and groundnut farmer in a rural community near Tamale, in northern Ghana. Prior to 2017, Musah (and most of her neighbors) had never opened a bank account. Season after season, she had struggled to save enough capital to purchase seed and fertilizer for her two-acre farm. Fortunately, Opportunity began conducting trainings in her community and helped Musah and her neighbors form a group to receive agricultural loans. For the first time, she was able to purchase enough seed and fertilizer, which helped increase her yields at harvest. Today, Musah has a bank account in her name where she can securely save her income—and feels empowered to decide how to spend it. Her dream is to expand the acreage of her farm and continue earning enough to help all five of her children finish their education. 

Thank you for your support and generosity. Our work would not be possible without you!

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Abdul and her children
Abdul and her children

Abdul works as a rice processor in rural Ghana—she purchases bags of harvested rice from her neighboring farmers, then dries and mills it before selling to vendors. Before, Abdul was able to purchase 2 bags of rice per week, from which she earned about $10. Fortunately, after meeting a loan officer through her farmer group, Abdul opened her first bank account with Opportunity and took out her first loan. She used her loan to purchase more bags of rice and has since grown her production to 10 bags per week, multiplying her income. Though Abdul never finished school, she is proud to say her three children will. Today, she is saving to pay for her middle daughter’s school exams, which will allow her to begin secondary school in the fall. Abdul's family is like many in Africa.

An estimated 80% of people living in extreme poverty live in rural regions, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly half of whom are children. For these families, smallholder farming is the most common way to provide for themselves. However, farming can be one of the riskiest jobs in the world for families living in developing communities. Severe weather, crop diseases, or bad seed can destroy an entire season’s harvest – and when your livelihood depends on just one or two harvests a year, it can mean your children go hungry for months, and drop out of school until you can afford to send them back.

Nearly two-thirds of all poor working adults – rural and urban – earn a living through agriculture. Expanding economic opportunities in agriculture will be one of the most important sectors to eradicate extreme poverty over the next decade, which will require dedicated efforts toward breaking the cycle of low-productivity smallholder farming that keeps the majority of rural families in poverty, season after season. 

Opportunity’s Approach

Opportunity’s model is structured to bring effective, sustainable, and low-cost financial and training services to families living in poverty in hard to reach regions of the world. Within each country, Opportunity works through local financial institution partners and our industry-leading program teams to implement our three-pronged approach for building sustainable livelihoods:

  1. Provision of tailored agricultural financial services – to increase investment in productive agricultural assets, such as seed, fertilizer, or irrigation equipment
  2. Training in relevant skills – to increase knowledge in agricultural best-practices to improve their farms and financial literacy to improve management of household finances
  3. Support groups and networks – to increase empowerment and social cohesion among farmer groups to drive the changes they wish to see in their communities

Thank you for your continued support! This work would not be possible without you. 

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Florence - Soy & Maize Farmer in Mchinji, Malawi
Florence - Soy & Maize Farmer in Mchinji, Malawi

Around the world, families like Florence’s are escaping poverty at unprecedented rates. More than a billion people have been lifted out of poverty over the last three decades. Yet, millions more still face the uncertainty of tomorrow, struggling to survive off too little income and too little food, waiting for their opportunity to gain a foothold out of extreme poverty.

For Florence, all she needed was an opportunity to grow her small farm – an opportunity that someone like you made possible. Florence received her first loan, opened her first savings account, and saw her first good harvest. She’s used her income to buy a metal roof for her home and send her grandchildren to school.

Today, you can create an opportunity for a rural family like Florence’s to grow their farm and build a sustainable livelihood. Every family reached brings us closer to the global mission of eradicating extreme poverty, the first of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, and in building a brighter, more equitable future for the next generation.

In 2019, you will be a part of three important priorities:

  1. Reaching more farming families – You make it possible to set up more farmer support networks and extend financial services above and beyond the organic reach currently possible by Opportunity’s financial institution partners alone, to the families that need them most.
  2. Empowering rural women – Historically, women have been much harder to reach and much harder to serve due to cultural stigmas, low literacy levels, and overall lack of infrastructure and support services to reach them. You will help direct resources toward women-focused rural initiatives, such as "Farming as a Family Business" trainings, to reach and empower more rural women through Africa.
  3. Investing in data and innovation – Serving rural families requires continual testing, adapting, and learning around what solutions work and what solutions could work better. Your support will fuel research and innovation within exciting new areas that could be game-changers in rural economic development, such as risk reduction tools, building climate resilience, agricultural technologies, and engaging youth in the future of agriculture.

Your support helps unlock more capital and more resources to reach some of the world’s most marginalized families—families who have been waiting generations for their opportunity to build a better future. Thank you!

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Farming can be one of the riskiest jobs in the world for families living in developing communities. Severe weather, crop diseases, or bad seed can destroy an entire season’s harvest – and when your livelihood depends on just one or two harvests a year, it can mean your children go hungry for months, and drop out of school until you can afford to send them back. Nearly 8 in 10 of the world’s poorest families rely on agriculture to survive, and struggle to break the cycle of low-productivity farming that keeps them in poverty, season after season.

Opportunity International’s AgFinance services help equip farmers with the capital, knowledge, and skills they need to transform their subsistence farms into productive, job-creating, community-changing businesses. To date, Opportunity has helped empower nearly half a million farmers in sub-Saharan Africa build resilient livelihoods through small-scale farming.

Today, this work is more important than ever. As the global community makes progress toward ending extreme poverty, farmers, more and more, are left behind. Your support helps bring targeted financial services, training, and support to agricultural communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, empowering farmers to sustainably improve their farms, increase their yields and incomes, and break the cycle of poverty.

The AgFinance Model

For 47 years, Opportunity International has worked to lift families out of poverty by pioneering innovative financial solutions that help families build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their communities. AgFinance specifically targets the unique needs of farmers by:

  1. Expanding access to agricultural financial services
  2. Providing training in Good Agricultural Practices
  3. Building support networks throughout value chains

By unlocking these services, your support helps provide a farming family with high-quality seed to plant, the skills to cultivate healthy crops, and connections to sell their harvest at a fair rate in their local markets –interventions that helps them continue improving and sustaining good harvests, year after year.

Finance

Financial institutions currently meet only 3% of the total estimated demand for loans from small farmers, which is why Opportunity works to expand access to agricultural financial services in rural communities. Additionally, by leveraging technology, Opportunity is breaking down geographic barriers to make lending more convenient and more accessible for rural farmers. Opportunity’s agriculture financial services include:

  • Loans and savings for smallholder farmers: Loans are tailored around agricultural seasons and used by farmers to purchase quality seed, fertilizer, and equipment to ensure they can grow better, higher-yielding crops. Farmers also open savings accounts and receive training in financial literacy to learn how to prudently save income after harvests to cover their households’ costs until the next harvest.
  • Finance for agribusiness entrepreneurs: Opportunity also offers financing for agribusinesses, such as aggregators, off-takers, warehouses, or processing facilities. Many of these businesses lack the up-front capital to purchase crops in bulk from farmers, especially as more farmers improve their yields. Business owners utilize these larger loans or other specialized financing, such as revolving credit facilities, to purchase more goods from farmers and increase the total capacity of their businesses.

Training

When financial services are supplemented with training, farmers can invest in much-needed resources while also deepening skills to transform their farms into thriving enterprises. Through Opportunity, farmers are receiving training on topics such as:

  • Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training for farmers: GAP trainings improve farmers’ skills and knowledge in areas such as planting techniques, irrigation, pesticides, crop rotation, and crop storage after harvest. This enables farmers to improve yields, protecting their crops against weather-related shocks, and smooth out their incomes year-round.
  • Farming as a Family Business: Women are often left out of decision-making on small family farms yet provide the majority of labor. Training entire families in the benefits of inclusive family farming – such as empowering women to make purchasing decisions, and learn Good Agricultural Practices alongside their husbands – help farms operate more successfully and productively

Support

Farmers rely on a network of support services throughout their value chains to effectively grow, cultivate, and sell their crops. Broken links within value chains – for example, if farmers couldn’t find the right seed to plant, or an off-taker to purchase their crops before they spoiled – are key drivers that prevent farmers from earning their full potential. Opportunity helps build strong agricultural support networks by:

  • Training lead farmers: Within a farming cooperative or group, a strong lead farmer equipped with technology and tools to train other farmers in Good Agricultural Practices can help rapidly spread knowledge, as well as facilitate group purchase agreements with local suppliers for good seed, or sales agreements with warehouses and off-takers. Opportunity also works with lead farmers to monitor the progress of farmers and help mitigate any challenges that arise.
  • Establishing partnerships with agribusinesses: Opportunity builds partnerships with a range of agribusinesses and connects them to local farmer groups in need of their services to fix broken links throughout value chains.

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With support from generous partners like you, we are developing a replicable, rural agricultural program in Uganda that utilizes robust data and strategic partnerships to enhance our service for smallholder farmers, especially coffee and grain farmers, that we can begin to implement in additional African countries where we serve rural families. Project achievements include: Supporting coffee, grain, and oilseed farmers by profiling their farms, opening savings accounts and providing loans to expand their operations. Today, 21,600 coffee and grain farmers have been digitally profiled which helps them gain critical knowledge of the size and requirements of their land. Additionally, 13,930 farmers have opened active savings accounts, more than doubling the established 2018 goal of 6,500, and 3,600 farmers have invested Opportunity AgFinance loans to expand or improve their operations, surpassing the target to reach 3,450 by 12/31/2018.

Improving productivity by training farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Cumulatively, 21,600 farmers have been trained in Good Agricultural Practices through the program; reaching 333% of the 12/31/2018 goal of 6,500.

Increasing Digital Financial Inclusion of Rural Families by conducting group trainings in digital financial services, and providing clients with training via voice message services. All 21,600 Ugandan farmers who have been profiled have also received training in the use of digital financial services.

Rolling out the new digitized platform. We have completed the customization of the new digitized agriculture finance platform which captures data about farmers, crop supply and demand, crop inventory levels and other information that is key for working with suppliers and buyers.

Empowering and training clients via Interactive Voice Response services. We conducted research among Uganda staff and farmers to customize trainings via voice messaging on cell phones. The scope of the research was to understand which client segments respond to which types of messages. For example, client responses were segmented by age, gender, or urban vs. rural, to identify which types of messages they preferred among those tested, including chatty/informal, serious/business, long or brief. The findings are guiding the content of voice messages, identifying client knowledge gaps, determining the content that resonates most with clients, and identifying the triggers that motivate clients into action. Based on findings, Interactive Voice Response messages have been translated into three local Ugandan languages and delivered to farmers via their cell phones.

Because of your support, Opportunity can better serve rural clients on their path out of extreme poverty. Thank you!

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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago, IL United States

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