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:
- Expanding access to agricultural financial services
- Providing training in Good Agricultural Practices
- 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.
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.
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
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.