National Microfinance Bank (NMB) announced Thursday (March 9) that it signed a strategic partnership agreement with Mastercard to ensure the digitization of the agricultural sector in Tanzania with the rollout of eKilimo, a mobile solution developed by the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion.
In a press release, NMB said eKilimo, which in Swahili means eAgriculture, is a digital platform that will introduce efficiency, security and transparency in the agriculture supply chain. National Microfinance Bank said the solution will make transacting faster, safer and easier for all stakeholders, including the farmer, the buyer and the agent.
“Contributing a significant $13.9 billion to Tanzania’s GDP (nearly 30 percent), it is critical that solutions are found to support this vital sector, ensuring sustainability and growth. Technology is having a significant impact already, and the mobile device is giving smallholder farmers the power and ability to move beyond cash,” said Raghu Malhotra, president, Middle East and Africa at Mastercard, in the release. “Using digital technology to provide access to farmers and introducing transparency to the buying and selling process will drive efficiencies into this supply chain, positively impacting the economy. In the long run, this should help farmers gain access to formal financial services and solutions, enabling them to manage their funds ensuring a better more secure future for them and their families.”
Powered by the digital platform developed by the Mastercard Lab, farmers are now able to conduct the entire transaction process of receiving payments and selling produce via a feature or smartphone. That eliminates the need to walk for hours to markets. This helps ensure farmers benefit from the ability to capture a higher percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency and more direct access to buyers, the bank said. eKilimo is leveraging the existing agency banking structure to facilitate account opening for farmers and joint ideation on new product features. This is in line with the Mastercard vision of a more digitally and financially included Africa.