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MasterCard Foundation establishes $50m African agri fund

The foundation, established by the global payments giant, has launched a challenge fund to enable better access to finance among smallholder farmers.

The $9 billion MasterCard Foundation has launched The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity which will provide $50 million in financing to financial service providers such as banks, microfinance institutions, insurance companies and agribusinesses to support the development of the agriculture sector.

The foundation was established by the global payments giant MasterCard in 2006 but is now an independent entity.

The financing will be won through two competitions: $15 million will support the development of ideas for new products, services or processes that increase access to finance for the rural poor, which will be available across 24 countries; and $35 million will help to scale the most promising ideas or pilots that have the potential to drive financial inclusion for smallholder farmers in new geographic areas, which will be available in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“Over the last decade, many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have enjoyed substantial economic growth but much of this growth has not benefitted the rural poor, especially smallholder farmers who are mostly women and who depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods,” said Reeta Roy, president and chief executive of The MasterCard Foundation in a statement.

“This new fund will stimulate private sector organizations to provide affordable and accessible savings, credit and insurance products. These services are essential to enable African farmers to increase productivity and incomes and, ultimately, grow rural economies,” she added.

KPMG International Advisory will manage the fund.

The fund will operate its innovation competition in: Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

The fund announcement coincides with a separate collaboration between African Development Bank and MasterCard surrounding more general financial inclusion for Africans. The collaboration is aiming to broaden access and usage of digital financial services across the continent.