Objective of the project
Develop products and services to sustainably finance agriculture

Areas of intervention
Laos, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo


- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- ACFB (Benin)
- ACFIME (Burkina Faso)
- GRAINE-SARL (Burkina Faso)
- FUCEC (Togo)
- PAIDEK SA (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Agricultural microfinance: a priority for ADA

The agricultural microfinance project was launched in 2017, aiming at mitigating the lack of financial products specifically designed for agricultural activities. In 2 years, ADA and its partners have been able to work out and test various financial products which, after the pilot phase, could serve 2 million customers in 4 countries (Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast).


The key feature of ADA’s approach in Africa is making coaching the core of its methodology, so MFI directors adhering to the project benefit from the support of a coach for nearly 50 days, sufficient time to identify needs, work out an action plan and implementing it.

ADA's experience in West and Central Africa

It all started in 2017 with a call for expressions of interest launched for West and Central African MFIs. Some twenty institutions responded positively to this call and requested to participate in a training workshop about agricultural finance. At the end of this workshop, 5 of them wished to participate the coaching program to develop an action plan and a pilot project to test at least one financial product designed specifically for the agricultural sector. Out of the 5 IMFs taking part in this phase — ACFB in Benin, ACFIME and GRAINE in Burkina Faso, PAIDEK in the Democratic Republic of Congo and FUCEC in Togo, only FUCEC completed an action plan and thus went on to the research, design and test phase of a new financial product.

Thereafter, ADA improved the selection process by adding a due diligence phase, in order to obtain a fuller picture of the institution and its status in terms of financial and social performance. This deeper understanding of the institutions allowed ADA to support other aspects seeming more urgent. For instance, GRAINE in Burkina Faso preferred to focus on its digital transition by joining the Digital Finance Initiative (DFI).

In Togo with FUCEC

FUCEC is the largest microfinance organization in Togo. It brings together 37 cooperatives and serves 1,100,000 customers throughout the country. Working with an institution of such scale makes it possible to support the design of financial products with strong customer potential and to operate in the various areas of the country. Also, a federation such as FUCEC is inherently complex which is why the institution and ADA agreed on the need to focus on 3 COOPECs (cooperative members of the federation) to develop and test these new financial products.

NOVISSI in the plateau region, not far from the capital Lomé. This COOPEC focuses mainly on cocoa, manioc and soya production loans, as well as storage loans.

GAIÉTÉ SOKODÉ operates in the central area, 350 km north of Lomé. It decided to focus on financing the production and marketing of soya and corn. In order to develop a financial product really capable of serving the various specialties, you need to know the seeding calendar and harvest periods for different crops. For instance, in the case of corn some 70 days elapse between sowing and harvesting, which means that after the disbursement of the loan, the MFI must wait approximately 3 months before collecting the first installment. The business plan is thus adapted to product specifics.

KATCHERE DE MORETAN is located at approximately 400 km north of Lomé, in the area of the plateaus. Initially, the MFI planned to create a financial product allowing producers to build or refurbish facilities for the storage of soya. The coaching process quickly showed that this option was not viable. KATCHERE thus decided to rule out this idea and work instead on the development of a more traditional product, i.e. a credit related to the production of soya and corn, specifically for the purchase of seeds and fertilizer but also to grant storage loans for women merchants and/or producer organizations.

By using this model, 443 loans of all types were granted for a total amount of 1,028,000 €.  

In 2018 the project goes on in Togo and expands to Burkina Faso and Benin

These pilot projects are still ongoing.  FUCEC plans to use 2020 for the last tests and adjustments on a relatively restricted sample of customers before scaling up in 2021.

The project with FUCEC allowed the capitalization of many experiences that were used as a basis for the continuation of the agricultural finance project in 2018. A training workshop was thus held in Cotonou at the beginning of 2018 to choose new MFIs. The representatives of FUCEC shared their experience, including the mistakes they had made but especially the lessons learned, such as the advantages of the coaching method. Starting from 2018, a thorough due diligence was required from all the IMFs interested in participating. As a result of this due diligence, 3 institutions were selected.

ASSILASSIMÉ is an organization created in Togo as a result of an Entrepreneurs du Monde project. It is located at approximately 150 km north of Lomé and serves 35,000 customers. Its main target is the poorest segment of the population. With the backing of ADA and a coach, Assilassimé had the objective of creating a product related to the marketing of corn and beans. The idea was to finance women merchants operating in the wholesaler’s market financed by Assilassimé and to also putting them in touch with the producers in the town of Amlamé who were also customers of Assilassimé's, to ensure their supplies.

Over 243 potential customers were trained about storage techniques. Warehousing loans were launched in November 2019. To date, 141 loans have been granted through the pilot's 4 branches. The loans were disbursed at the end of January 2020 for this pilot phase that will require adaptations.

YIKRI is an MFI from Burkina Faso also promoted by Entrepreneurs du Monde. It has 45,000 members and 8 branches in the country.  The role of the coach was thus instrumental in revisiting the product concept that was to be developed — a loan intended for the production of one of the most common product lines in the country: vegetable and sesame growing, pig and chicken breeding. As a result of the coaching, Yikri decided to change its approach and not grant loans for a specific activity but instead for a broad project as very often the incomes from these crops are supplemented by additional activities such as small trade. The objective of reaching 2,000 customers was exceeded in a few months — 2,311 customers including 59% women with average loans of 320 €.

RENACA is a network of microfinance institutions in Benin gathering a total of 130,000 members. As a result of the backing of a coach, Renaca reinforced its agricultural loans with 3 agronomists who called on the prospective customers on the ground, before the disbursement of credits, to assess the activity’s risk on the basis of strictly technical parameters, advising the farmer about measures to be taken in order to improve and increase his/her production, thus limiting the risks for the MFI. The project, jointly funded by ADA, also made it possible for RENACA to equip the 3 agronomists with computers and motor bikes to speed up travel on the ground. In the pilot phase of this new financial product, Renaca plans to reach 100 customers —70 existing customers and 35 new customers.

The agricultural financing project expands to the Ivory Coast in 2020

The closing activity of 2019 was a new workshop organized in November in Cotonou for new institutions. ADA decided again to choose institutions interested by the project through a thorough due diligence process. The participating institutions were able to learn about RENACA's experience before completing their action plan for 2020-2021.

The institutions currently working in the agricultural finance project are:

  • UNACREP of Benin, in this case it is also a network of 13 CREP (rural saving and loan unions) with 800,000 customers;
  • UNACOOPEC-CI of the Ivory Coast is a network of 24 MFIs serving 600,000 members.

ADA supports the PADMIR project in Cameroun

PADMIR project (support program for the development of rural microfinance) was launched by FIDA in 2009 in which 22 MFIs from various areas and representing the great diversity of the country actively participated. The project was eventually taken over by the Cameroonian government, so ADA now trains officers about the coaching approach in rural finance.

It quickly appeared more effective to work with a limited sample of MFIs representing the complexity of the country in view of the languages in use (French and English) and the institutional typology (NGOs, associations, cooperatives, official entities, etc.).

After the first training, the CEMAC, which is the economic region to which Cameroun belongs, adopted a new regulation. Only 3 out of 6 MFIs were still recognized by the State, while the other 3 could no longer offer financial services.

First French-speaking training program in rural and agricultural finance

After a first edition of the French-speaking training program in rural and agricultural financing, organized ahead of SAM 2019 in Ouagadougou, ADA and FAO are launching the second edition to be held in Luxembourg in November 2020.

Agricultural microfinance reinforces the cocoa value chain in Peru

In 2018, ADA, MFI PRISMA and NGO PRISMA launched a project for the reinforcement of the cocoa value chain in San Martin, Peru, one of the most important producing areas in the country, in order to increase the quality and yield of cocoa production in response to the strong market demand. Despite various support programs which somewhat increased the output, the yield remained always poor because of a lack of human and financial resources to ensure the maintenance of the plots.

The project initiated by ADA made it possible to set up a new methodology of technical aid called “chova chova”, a system based on the mutual help of farmers for the maintenance of plots requiring manpower. This assistance was supplemented by a financial product focusing on the needs of small cocoa producers.

"Chova chova" in practice

 This system consists in training groups of farmers from cocoa cooperatives who would then work on each of the 4 plot maintenance activities: tree trimming, fertilization, weeding and disease control. A “chovero” leader is then selected within each cooperative, who then organizes his/her group of 10 to 15 farmers from the same geographical area. The mutual help starts on the leader's plot for the first activity: tree trimming. The group attends a demonstration by an expert cocoa agronomist showing them how to trim the trees so that fruits can thrive while minimizing the diseases which could affect growth. The group puts these recommendations in practice and goes on with the same activity on the 2nd farmer’s plot, then on the 3d one’s, and so on. This system allows everyone to get to grips with the process to replicate it in his/her own plot autonomously with the assistance of the rest of the group but without needing the support of an agronomist.

At the end of the pilot in July 2019, 34 groups were coached, i.e. 34 "choveros" and 285 producers. 349 loans were disbursed, for a total amount of 260,000 €. 24 producers received the technical aid and the financial product. Since then, a second 24-month project is underway to reinforce synergies between these two services and to expand the project to 720 choveros and to disburse 1,500 loans.

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