Company Spotlight

MasterCard Helps Kenyan Farmers Access Capital

MasterCard Labs' first innovation event in Kenya has come away with some agricultural ideas.

Having launched MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion — an initiative that MasterCard stated was designed to impact the lives of more than 100 million people around the world “by developing practical and cost-effective financial tools that expand access and help build stable futures over the long term" — in Nairobi, Kenya, late last year, the company has shared the results of the project's first collaborative innovation program called LaunchPad.

Held from Oct. 5–9, the LaunchPad event brought together a team of developers, designers and business stakeholders in a challenge to conceptualize, build a prototype and present a go-to-market strategy for an agricultural solution for smallholder farmers.

Partners of MasterCard Labs — including Kenya's AGRA, East Africa's Cafedirect Producers Foundation and Tanzania's Yetu Microfinance, ACORD International and Mt. Meru Millers — were invited to identify and help solve problems in the region's agricultural value chain. MasterCard's press release about the event states that the partners narrowed the focus to three key areas: client registration and aggregation, transactions and multiple channels of payments and how to use transaction information to facilitate access to microfinance credit (which would help farms become more profitable).

The LaunchPad event culminated in a presentation at a Research Summit, which (the press release states) saw more than 100 partners from NGOs, banks, companies, bilateral and multilateral institutions, universities, research organizations and government-led entities gather for discussions on financial inclusion opportunities and challenges in East Africa.

Providing further background on the event's purposes, the MasterCard release shares figures from the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture showing that an estimated 5 out of about 8 million Kenyan households depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods, but those farmers are negatively impacted by climate and economic changes — making financial inclusion an essential part of maintaining their livelihoods.

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