Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Financial challenges by farmers

6 November 2017. Brussels. How smallholder farmers feed the world. Which financial challenges to overcome? by Prof. Bina Agarwal, Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK

All over the world, more than 500 million households are active in small scale family farming. As the world is becoming a global village and the agriculture in many countries is up scaling and making use of increasingly complex technologies, one could reasonably question the future of smallholder farmers.

However, over the last years, smallholder farmers have received increasing attention and support as the FAO proclaimed 2014 the international year of family farming and interdisciplinary experts forums such as IPES-Food are advocating for a paradigm shift in the current agro-food system.

Prof. Bina Agarwal addressed following questions at this session of the Microfinance Lunch Break.
  1. How can the smallholder farmers contribute to fighting hunger while supporting local economic development and biodiversity as well as sustainable food systems ? 
  2. What are the challenges they face and how can microfinance contribute to overcome them ? 
Prof. Bina Agarwal is an award-winning development economist with extensive experience in the fields of food security, gender inequality, agriculture and environmental governance. She is currently Professor at the GDI, University of Manchester, UK.

She played a key role in India’s inheritance law reforms and serves on the board of many international organizations, including IPES-Food. In 2016 she received the Order of Agricultural Merit, Government of France, and in 2017 the Agropolis Foundation’s Louis Malassis Prize for an “Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development”.

BRS supports microfinance and microinsurance projects in the South to help sustainably improve the quality of life of the poorer population in the South. Not merely with cash, but more specifically with advice and in a dialogue with the stakeholders.



Country: Cameroon
Partner: Trias
In Cameroon, BRS works directly with CamCCUL, an umbrella organisation of more than 200 savings and credit cooperations. CamCCUL (Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union League) supports its member


Country: RD Congo
Partner: Trias
Mutual health organisations in the DRC are mostly small-scale community initiatives that lack the knowledge and experience to manage their health insurance professionally. CGAT was founded three

CIF Assurances Vie Burkina

Country: Burkina Faso
Partner: Africa
In 2012, CIF Assurances Vie Burkina saw the light of day. A life insurer set up under the auspices of a network of savings and credit cooperatives in Burkina Faso and four other West African


Country: Uganda
Partner: Trias
Just like everywhere else in the world, microfinancing is available most easily in the cities of Uganda. A microfinancing institution has a harder time turning itself into a successful enterprise in


Country: Africa
Partner: ADA
Microfinance organisations get a better insight into their financial situation thanks to the combined support of training and technical assistance. BRS, in close collaboration with its partners ADA,


Country: Tanzania
Partner: Trias
In Tanzania, BRS is working together with the first community bank, the Mufindi Community Bank (Mucoba). This local savings and credit institution started its activities in the little town of Mafinga

Rural banks

Country: Ghana
Partner: Africa
A number of rural banks are active in Northern Ghana. With local businesses and the government as shareholders, they offer local financing, including to poorer farmers. In 2005, BRS committed


Country: Rwanda
Partner: Africa
Renforcement de la capacité et informatisation des institutions de microfinance en collaboration avec Aquadev Rwanda. Les institutions de microfinance investissent plus dans les


Country: Togo
Partner: Louvain Coopération
Strengthening the savings and credit operation of UCMECS for farmers' groups in North Togo in collaboration with Louvain Coopération. This project is located in the dry savannah region of
  • Launched in 2005, the EMP (Master de spécialisation en microfinance) has been designed by microfinance experts to offer a unique blend of theory and practice. Since 2007, students graduating from the EMP obtain a full Master degree (European Master in microfinance).
  • The purpose of the programme is to develop future professionals in microfinance who will contribute to the strengthening of microfinance institutions worldwide, in accordance with the highest international standards.
  • The EMP provides students with a professional, multi-disciplinary approach to the challenges the microfinance sector is facing today, through: a solid theoretical foundation, taught by professors from three European universities in Belgium (Université libre de Bruxelles; Université de Mons) and France (Université Paris Dauphine).
  • With more than 50% of students coming from the South, 26 nationalities and experts from all parts of the world, the EMP is a particularly international Masters programme, which allows to create and keep new (professional) networks.
April 2016. Microfinance Lunch Break. Can we imagine a world without banks? The intriguing experience of mobile money pioneer M-PESA

Michael Joseph, Director of Mobile Money of the Vodafone Group Services shared his vision on financial inclusion and how mobile technology is creating new opportunities to provide services at the bottom of the pyramid.

After the success of the mobile payment service and its introduction in Asia and Europe, the sky seems to be the limit with new services such as savings, borrowings and micro-insurance. Do banks, microfinance institutions and micro-insurers have to be concerned of being made redundant? Or should they rather embrace this (r)evolution and look for new partnerships to increase their outreach and create value for their clients?

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