Tanzanian, Kenyan Small Holder Farmers to Benefit From Heifer International, Mastercard Community Pass Project
By Prosper Makene
Heifer International, a global non-profit organization, and Mastercard have announced an agreement to connect millions of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to Mastercard’s Community Pass – a digital platform that makes it safer and easier for farmers to get paid more and faster for their produce.
To achieve this digital visibility for smallholder farmers in Africa, Heifer International through Mastercard Community Pass will initially focus on smallholder farmers in selected African markets, starting with Tanzania and Kenya.
Under the partnership, Heifer International and Mastercard will focus on advancing digitalization and financial inclusion among smallholder farmers in Africa. Mastercard Community Pass is designed to address infrastructure challenges that arise in digitizing rural communities, such as unreliable connectivity, low smartphone ownership, and lack of consistent identification or credentials.
Community Pass provides farmer visibility through simple and affordable issuance and acceptance infrastructure that enables digital transactions and creates a farmer digital presence that will then enable Heifer International to better reach and serve them.
The partnership supports Heifer International’s objective of leveraging technology and innovation to accelerate Africa towards a digitally dominant agriculture sector with strong value chain networks that create sustainable living income and stability for smallholder farmers and farming communities through access to finance, access to markets, and partnerships.
Access to finance remains a critical issue for farmers on the continent, and Heifer International is working to enable financial inclusion by working with innovators and leveraging innovative platforms that utilize data to create digital footprints, providing visibility for farmers who on average are unable to account for everyday data they generate from business transactions and commodity exchanges for goods and services. By working to improve farmer visibility, Heifer International aims to connect social entrepreneurs to farmers and farmer data, enabling these innovators to provide tailored solutions to support farmers and co-ops at scale. This is in line with Heifer’s plan of reaching 6 million smallholder farming households in Africa by 2030.
“The sustainability and transformation of Africa’s agriculture, as well as the development and increased living incomes for smallholder farmers remain at the heart of all we do at Heifer International. This is why our collaboration with Mastercard is crucial to ensure smallholder farmers are financially included, removing some of the barriers that keep them unbanked and perceived as high risk by traditional financial institutions,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President for Africa Programs, Heifer International. “We remain committed to ensuring that smallholder farmers have the right resources and support required to thrive by leveraging innovation and key partnerships. We firmly believe that smallholder farmers play a foremost role in ensuring the continent’s agricultural food resilience and self-sufficiency.”
“We are energized and honored to collaborate with Heifer International to bring an ecosystem for greater efficiency and effectiveness to their work with smallholder farmers, enabling safe, simple, smart, and commercially sustainable digital solutions for remote and marginalized communities in Africa,” said Daniel Huba, Vice President Sub-Saharan Africa, Humanitarian and Development, Mastercard. “When we empower marginalized communities and individuals, we can power economies and support economic growth that is truly inclusive. Mastercard Community Pass contributes to this by offering a digital platform that makes it easier for smallholder farmers to move from subsistence to commercial farming. This, in turn, will stimulate agricultural growth, increase competitiveness, and improve food security in Africa. We look forward to working with Heifer International to further this shared mission.”
Mastercard is working to connect individuals in underserved, remote and frequently offline communities with digital tools, including millions of farmers in Africa who use Community Pass to access agricultural markets, inputs providers and financial services to help build and grow their enterprises.