Giving smallholder farmers the power to invest in themselves
MyAgro will give over a million smallholder farmers in West Africa an easy, transparent, low-risk way to save
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Eighty percent of the world's poorest 2.5 billion people are farmers. Despite growing the majority of the world's food, they often go hungry themselves. In West Africa, a region with the fastest-growing population, food security is an entrenched problem — one exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change that’s making seasons shorter and more variable. There are also many barriers that keep farmers — particularly women — in a vicious cycle of poverty. Most smallholder farmers don't have money when they need it most — their cash flow comes at harvest time rather than in the planting season. There are few accessible, affordable, safe options for rural farmers to save and later reinvest, as savings accounts are often inaccessible, and keeping cash on hand is a risk. At the same time, credit is not widely available, and many farmers don't want to take on debt.
MyAgro has designed a low-cost, tech-enabled savings solution that offers farmers an easy, transparent, low-risk way to set aside money for critical farm investments each season. It uses the concept of "layaway" and helps smallholder farmers save for the high-quality seed and fertilizer they’ll need, while giving them the flexibility and dignity to select investment packages that suit their goals. This could include a food package to help them feed their family, climate risk insurance or even agricultural tools. Over the next five years, myAgro will scale this solution to reach one million farmers in West Africa, 70% of them women. They will expand into new territories, reaching up to 40% of farm households across Senegal and Mali and starting operations in two new West African countries too, ensuring household food security for 10 million people. By engaging farmers as agents in charting their own financial future, myAgro harnesses the power of saving to set farmers on a path out of poverty.
MyAgro recognizes that farmers have their highest cash flow in the months following a harvest and that this is the time to help them put aside cash. Farmers work with myAgro to set a planting target for next season and the land size they want to cultivate. They then select a relevant package of inputs and begin saving, using simple mobile-enabled technology and scratch cards they purchase from their local myAgro Village Entrepreneur (VE). At planting time, myAgro delivers their pre-paid package to a convenient pickup location. Farmers also receive training to increase their yield and the resilience of their crops. At each step, myAgro designs with women in mind, taking into account systematic barriers female farmers face around access to financial products, high-quality inputs and programs tailored to their needs.
Why will this succeed?
As a pioneer and leading voice for smallholder farmers, particularly women, myAgro is proving that rural farmers not only want to save but will save — and will increase their farm investments each year if they have easy tools to do so. Their savings-based, market-driven model produces powerful results and is promoted by the World Bank, The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the International Finance Corporationas a way to expand financial inclusion to farmers. Today, myAgro serves more than 115,000 farmers in Mali and Senegal, and Tanzania. MyAgro farmers grow 78% more food than non-myAgro farmers and nearly $200 more in net income per year. That's a 35% increase for a farmer living on $1.50 per day.