Learning Brief 2: Last mile business partnerships for smallholder finance

Published on

February 17, 2017

The second in the Lab's Learning Brief series, "Better together: Last mile business partnerships for smallholder finance,"* offers baseline insights for building or enabling businesses partnerships to better serve smallholders. These are early findings from an ongoing study of four value chain/technology players looking to partner with financial institutions.

[Download Learning Brief 2]

See the full baseline report here for additional information

The Learning Lab has commenced an 18-month study of the partnership-building efforts of four "last mile" agribusiness and ag-focused technology firms that were winners from the first Innovation Competition of The MasterCard Foundation’s Fund for Rural Prosperity

These projects and their related partnership efforts are still in early stages, so some conclusions are still to come; however, the baseline findings highlight potential synergies between last mile firms and financial institutions, and lessons regarding business partnership motivation and process. This learning brief summarizes these early insights for financial institutions or value chain actors looking to serve smallholders, and their investors and funders.  

Business partnerships between agribusinesses or ag-focused technology providers and FIs present a high-potential opportunity to improve the delivery of financial products and services to smallholder farmers, but there are few proven models operating at scale in Africa today.  The brief explores (1) motivations on both sides of such partnerships, (2) challenges to forming and maintaining partnerships, and (3) supporting factors to increase the likelihood of success.  It also provides (4) a preliminary guide for last mile firms looking to partner with financial institutions. 

Authorship: Dalberg Global Development Advisors led the research under guidance of the Learning Lab.

*Note: The Learning Brief series shares outputs from Lab research across a range of themes (click here for Learning Brief 1).  Because this study on business partnerships is at the baseline stage, additional findings will be shared in future learning briefs.

Full Learning Brief

About the Author(s)

Original Content

The Learning Lab works to identify and share knowledge relevant to our learning agenda and our users, but also to create new knowledge through research and facilitated learning. Original content from the Learning Lab includes news about the Lab, analyses we've conducted, knowledge products we've created, and posts we've written about other relevant initiatives.

Learning Lab Implementing Partner

Dalberg is a strategic advisory firm specializing in international development and global challenges. They have extensive expertise in rural and agricultural finance, including having authored the landmark study Catalyzing Smallholder Finance 

Dalberg jointly implements the Learning Lab with GDI, conducting "deep dive" studies for the Fund for Rural Prosperity as well as the MasterCard Foundation's rural and agricultural finance portfolio. On raflearning.org, Dalberg also shares knowledge and learnings from outside of its work with the Lab.

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