Improving Access to Finance in East & West Africa

Research shows that smallholder farmers provide 70% of the world's food, but only 2% of their financing needs are being met in the developing world.

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Sometimes this is due to high interest rates, or demands for security that can't be met. Often, management committees made up of individual farmers lack the skills to produce the business plans or financial projections required by lenders.

Shared Interest Foundation developed the Access to Finance project in 2013 to address these issues. Funded by Comic Relief the two year project was designed to deliver financial training to co-operatives, followed by individual mentoring and support.

The project was delivered in; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Ivory Coast, in partnership with Fairtrade. Africa. The key target was to see £1m of loan finance approved to the organisations who participated as a result of the training, mentoring and support. Over the two years we were in fact able to see over £2.5m of loan finance approved as a direct result of this project. 122 organisations participated in the training, representing 31,260 members. Forty eight organisations went on to make applications for loan finance, and 24 of these were successful.

Kabuboni Coffee Farmers' Co-operative is a Fairtrade coffee producer situated on the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya. Farmers in the area usually rely on coffee as their main cash crop. However, in order to strengthen their business as reduced coffee prices continued to take their toll, Kabuboni were looking to diversify into milk production.

After receiving specialist training and mentoring from our Access to Finance project, Kabuboni members have been able to find an extra source of income from dairy farming.

"We were in dire need of funds for diversification. The training has helped us access this finance and subsequently increase the number of female employees as the majority of dairy farmers tend to be women."

Kabuboni member

Following the success of this project we have rolled out smaller scale Access to Finance projects in Malawi, Columbia and Peru.