- Heifer and Mastercard will leverage on respective strengths in implementing this initiative that launched in Nairobi last week.
- The organisation hopes to reach six million smallholder farming households in Africa by 2030.
Think of a tomato farmer in Embu. She has harvested 30kg that may go to waste or drastically lose value if not sold within a week. In this dry season when tomatoes are in high demand in the city, she should make a tidy profit. Spoiler alert: That is not how it works at all!
The reality is the farmer has no idea whom to sell to in the city. She will probably sell the produce to a broker at a throwaway price and get paid in cash. That is how it works!
According to Tara Nathan, executive vice president and Global Head of Community Pass at Mastercard, this farmer’s ability to grow her business is limited because she has no credit history and is unable to connect with buyers who are desperately looking for her tomatoes.
Tara adds that one of the biggest challenges across Africa is the lack of efficient linkage between farmers and potential markets.
“The produce exists but buyers do not know where it is, so when we talk about farmer visibility that is the first challenge we are solving. It is the visibility to where the produce exists giving the buyers access to actually purchase from the farmers," she said.
To address such challenges, Mastercard has partnered with Heifer International, which supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies, to connect thousands of smallholder farmers in Kenya 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.
According to Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president for Africa Programmes at Heifer International, the partnership, known as Heifer Farmer visibility Initiative, is driven by the agriculture transformation agenda in the continent.
“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,” Adesuwa said.
The partnership was launched in Nairobi last Friday.
She added: “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.”
Adesuwa said that smallholder farmers play a major role in ensuring the continent’s agricultural food resilience and self-sufficiency.
“We remain committed to ensuring that smallholder farmers have the right resources and support required to thrive by leveraging innovation and key partnerships,” she said.
She added that improving farmer visibility will help connect social entrepreneurs to farmers and farmer data, enabling these innovators to provide tailored solutions to support farmers and co-ops at scale. The organisation hopes to reach six million smallholder farming households in Africa by 2030. To achieve this, Heifer will begin with farmers in Kenya and Tanzania.
Tara Nathan, the founder of Mastercard Community Pass, says the digital platform is designed to address infrastructure challenges that arise in digitising rural communities, such as unreliable connectivity, low smartphone ownership, and lack of consistent identification or credentials.
“Without these, they are unable to connect with buyers to get a better price for their produce. They are also unable to build a credit history, which helps them access financial services such as loans,” she said. “We have already added about two million farmers on the platform.” She added.
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.
Heifer and Mastercard will leverage on respective strengths in implementing this initiative that launched in Nairobi last week.