Convening for Conversation
11 July 2023
During June, our Head of Lending Paul Sablich and Partnership Manager Sally Seddon attended the annual CSAF convening which took place over two days in London. In this article, Sally explains what the event was about and why Shared Interest went along.
What is CSAF?
CSAF is the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance. They are the leading global network of lending practitioners promoting an inclusive finance market for agricultural SMEs (small and medium enterprises).
Shared Interest is a founding member of CSAF, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2022. CSAF has 20 members and affiliates, as well as a growing number of field building partners. CSAF members are social lenders who ‘focus on lending to agricultural SMEs in the missing middle, including producer organizations and private enterprises.’ CSAF field building partners are ‘like-minded institutions that support CSAF’s work in building a responsible financial market for agricultural SMEs.’
CSAF members convene to share learning, develop industry standards and best practices, and engage other stakeholders to address barriers to market growth and impact.
From 2013 to 2021, CSAF members cumulatively lent $5.5 billion to 1,546 co-operatives and businesses that supported 6M smallholder farmers.
What do we mean by ‘missing middle’?
Missing Middle enterprises are usually described as being too large for micro-finance type financing, and too small to be attractive for commercial banks. Source: Small Foundation
What happens at the convening?
Sally said: “This was my first time attending the CSAF convening, or indeed any CSAF event, and so I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet some of our social lender peers and the opportunity to meet more of CSAF’s field-building partners."
The convening was held over two days and Sally joined for the second day when members and field-building partners were brought together. Our Head of Lending Paul participated in the first day, which involved conversations among the CSAF membership.
Sally continued: “Over the day we received presentations covering topics such as data trends in Agri-SME finance, gender lens investing and climate finance. All topics of great relevance to Shared Interest following the outcomes of our Strategic Review and focus on, in particular, climate change and gender in our activities.
"There was also plenty of opportunity to network with the 50 attendees and to learn and share with each other."
Why is CSAF important?
‘CSAF’s mission is to share learning, promote industry standards and best practices, and engage other stakeholders in building a more inclusive and impactful finance market for agricultural businesses.’ It offers a space for dialogue among those supporting agricultural SMEs to inspire and encourage all involved to strive forward in responding to the needs of producers.
For more information about CSAF visit their website at