Objective of the project
Development of financial and non-financial products and services for a more sustainable agriculture
Areas of intervention
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Peru
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- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- RENACA (Bénin)
- UNACREP (Bénin)
- YIKRI (Burkina Faso)
- UNACOOPEC-CI (Côte d’Ivoire)
- FUCEC (Togo)
- ASSILASSIMÉ (Togo)
- PRISMA (Pérou)
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.
Second French-speaking training program in rural and agricultural finance (FAR 2020)
Ahead of the SAM 2019 in Ouagadougou, the first edition of the French rural and agricultural financing training programme delivered by ADA and FAO was held via the CABFIN project. This programme aimed to help executives from French-speaking African financial institutions improve their understanding of the issues and challenges of rural finance. Over two weeks, 42 participants from 13 African countries were trained by 15 expert participants in innovative techniques enabling access to financial services for agricultural stakeholders.
After this first edition, ADA and FAO launched a second edition in French. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new mixed formula proposed an introductory e-learning session from 9 November to 4 December 2020 and an in-depth face-to-face session in 2021 (over 2 weeks). Among the 70 selected participants, 30 had the chance to continue the face-to-face session in 2021.
NEW: The guidance notes of the ADA-FAO coaching programme are available
This 63-page guide aims to share the experience accumulated by FAO and ADA from 2017 to 2021 during the implementation of the coaching programme in Africa. It is intended for donors, development organizations, FSPs and other private or public stakeholders wishing to bring about a lasting improvement in smallholder farmers’ access to funding in agricultural value chains.
The coaching programme was launched in 2017 by Appui au Développement Autonome (ADA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under Improving Capacity Building in Rural Finance (CABFIN), a partnership comprising FAO, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the World Bank and the World Food Programme (WFP). Two initial pilot programmes – a national pilot in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and a regional pilot in West Africa – included the participation of eight financial service providers.
Agricultural microfinance reinforces the cocoa value chain in Peru
In 2018, ADA, the MFI “PRISMA” and the NGO “PRISMA” launched a project to strengthen the cocoa value chain in San Martin, a region that accounts for 80% of Peru's cocoa production. The aim was to increase the quality and yield of cocoa production in response to strong market demand, and to increase producers’ revenues. Despite various support programs that increased production, yields remained low. This was due to inefficient plot maintenance and a lack of human and financial resources needed to ensure good practices by small producers.
The project initiated by ADA has enabled the implementation of a new technical assistance methodology. Known as “chova chova”, this system is based on reciprocal support between farmers for the upkeep of plots requiring labour. This assistance was complemented by a financial product tailored to the needs of small cocoa producers.
"Chova chova" in practice
The principle consists of forming groups of farmers from cocoa cooperatives. These groups work together on the plots, carrying out four activities that are important for their proper upkeep: tree pruning, fertilisation, weeding and disease control. A “chovero” leader is then appointed within each cooperative, which forms its group of 10 to 15 farmers from the same geographical area. The reciprocal support begins on the leader’s plot for the first activity, e.g. tree pruning. For this first plot, the group attends a demonstration by an agronomy expert in cocoa, who shows them how to obtain the tree size needed for optimal fruit growth, while minimising the risks of diseases that could affect its growth. The group implements these recommendations by pruning the trees on the leader’s plot. Once the work is completed, the group continues the same work – generally the next day – on the plot of a second farmer from the group, then a third, etc., without the support of the agronomist. This system ensures that the technique is taken on board by each producer. They can then replicate it independently during future agricultural campaigns.
At the end of the pilot in July 2019, 34 groups were supported (i.e. 285 cocoa producers) and 936 loans were disbursed. Of the 285 producers, 24 received both technical assistance and the financial product. Since then, a second 24-month project has been launched to enhance the synergy between these two services, extend the project to 720 choveros and disburse 1,500 loans.
For a profitable and competitive sustainable agriculture
As part of its contribution to improving the resilience of rural populations, ADA is committed alongside its partners to promote the adapted offer of non-financial services in addition to conventional financial services.
With this in mind, ADA has linked the Songhai Agropastoral and Agroecological Centre and the MFI network RENACA to train producers on best production practices and follow them on their farms to ensure ownership.
The first promotion composed of 12 producers (1 snail farmer, 3 fish farmers, 4 market gardeners and 4 local chicken farmers) and a dedicated team (4 loan officers) from RENACA entered training for one week.
With its 30 years of experience, the Songhai Centre located in Porto Novo in Benin is an institution that contributes to the creation of green rural towns with the practice of integrated agriculture; an organic agriculture respecting nature and based essentially on bio-mimicry. Its training unit receives in boarding school students and practitioners in all agricultural sectors and in all the links of these sectors (production of organic fertilizers, production and breeding, processing and marketing).
RENACA is a network of 8 self-managed village funds that operates mainly in rural areas over most of Benin. As of December 31, 2020, RENACA had 166,747 members for a savings volume of FCFA 5.1 billion and outstanding loans of FCFA 8.9 billion for 36,426 borrowers.
The training workshop of the first class of producers ended with the establishment of the agenda of post-training follow-ups on their respective farms.
Indeed, each producer will have two follow-ups of two days each of their trainers to ensure ownership and potential improvements in performance.
The training ended on a note of general satisfaction of the participants. The training programme for the promotion of women processors of agricultural products is established between RENACA and SONGHAI.