The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) is set to invest over $1m into innovative and scalable financial products and services that improve the lives of poor people in rural areas of Africa.
“Our Fund for Rural Prosperity has already met its initial objective of improving the lives of one million smallholder farmers and poor people in rural Africa,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation. “We have seen financial services providers step up with truly innovative and scalable ideas to drive financial inclusion for this group of people. We hope that other actors in this space are taking note so that they, too, can emulate or support success and bring the benefits of financial inclusion to millions more people.”
The foundation has unveiled a 2017 competition for innovative financial solutions that expand and deepen financial inclusion for poor people in rural areas of Africa. It will also support selected solutions that have already been successfully implemented and are being scaled to a new sector, a new geographic area, or for a new use.
Since its launch in 2015, the Fund has held four competitions. Nineteen projects across Sub-Saharan Africa have been provided with financial support of over $23,802,913.
The fund has also announced Ibero Uganda Limited, First Access and Letshego Financial Services Mozambique as the 2016 Innovation Competition winners which took home a total of US$1,000,000 each.
With the cash Ibero Uganda Ltd will implement the Coffee Farmers Livelihoods Enhancement Project to reach smallholder coffee farmers with either a fertilizer advance and a cash advance. Ibero expects at least 35,000 farmers to increase their productivity by 100% and net income by 94%, leading to radical transformation in their livelihoods.
First Access in partnership with Esoko will develop Africa’s first-of-its-kind rural agricultural credit-scoring platform for lending institutions while Mozambique’s Letshego Financial Services is proposing the LetsGo- Blue Box agency banking model which will allow rural agents, for the first time in Mozambique, to collect biometric “know-your-customer” information (including digital pictures and geographical coordinates), open bank accounts in real time, print mini-statements, etc. to bring formal banking transactions to even the most remote areas.