Fund for Rural Prosperity

From its inception, the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity has intended to harness the creativity and capacity of the financial sector and for-profit businesses to innovate, increase access to and deliver financial services at scale.

If the vast majority of Africa’s population is smallholder farmers, mostly women, and the majority of adults in Africa lack access to basic financial products, we needed to combine those two realities and develop a program that would target rural-based smallholder farmers with the kind of financial products that would accelerate their incomes and improve their livelihoods. In 2014, the Mastercard Foundation joined forces with KPMG and co-created the Fund for Rural Prosperity, a $50M Fund dedicated to incentivizing innovation in access to financial services for this specific demographic – smallholder farmers.

The bold target was to reach 1 million people through innovations developed and scaled through the Fund’s support. Now in its eighth and final year, the Fund has a portfolio of 38 participant businesses presenting significant achievements, such as its impact on over 5.3 million beneficiaries across 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, many women and youth. The journey of these participant businesses has also surfaced a wealth of portfolio and sector-wide insights and learnings for the benefit of multiple stakeholders at all levels working towards financial inclusion on the continent. The credit for this success belongs to the 38 businesses that received support through this Fund. It is their innovations in savings products, credit offerings and credit scoring techniques that have improved the lives of so many. Collectively, they developed 171 new financial products. And their approaches have proven to be sustainable.

The Fund Manager for the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity is KPMG International Development Advisory Services, supported by monitoring, evaluation and learning partner Triple Line Consulting. Nathan Associates and the Mastercard Foundation Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab provided other earlier support over the journey.


Latest Impact

Fund participants had cumulatively reached 5.3 million customers up to 30 June 2022. Of these, 41 were customers under 35 and 35% were women living in rural areas. Nearly 5,000 direct jobs have been created within participant businesses, with 2.9 million people receiving capacity building from participant businesses to use the over 171 financial products and services launched with Fund support over its lifetime. These results significantly exceed initial expectations of the Fund performance when conceptualized some eight years ago. An initial target of 1 million was set for underserved customers to be reached with financial products and services.

Read More about How the Fund for Rural Prosperity Unlocks Access to Financial Services for 5.3 Million Previously Underserved People in Sub-Saharan Africa


Learnings Generated

Learning Paper: Pathways to Job Creation

Explore the indirect mechanisms between financial inclusion and work creation to enable the Fund to better support participants, and to contribute learning to the sector.

Read the Learning Paper
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Final Impact Report

Insights on how participant organizations met challenges and even took up new opportunities presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and other climate related and political emergencies.

Read the Final Impact Report

The Key Role of Gender Focus in Financial Inclusion

Learn about the role being played by women and the need for gender focus in addressing financial inclusion.

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The digital transformation at the centre of growth in financial inclusion

Explore the role of digital technologies in the upscaling of financial inclusion versus the need for physical relationship building in rural areas.

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The Role of Financial Inclusion in Supporting Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Strengthening the agricultural value chain, from farmer to consumer, is at the heart of feeding Africa’s rapidly growing population. A crucial component of this is providing financial access to the rural populace, the majority being smallholder farmers, to address farm productivity, poverty reduction and food security. Learn about the role financial inclusion is playing in food security.

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