$35 Million Competition for Greater Financial Inclusion for Smallholder Farmers in Africa

Nairobi, July 27, 2015—The MasterCard Foundation today announced the opening of a US$35 million Scaling Competition under its Fund for Rural Prosperity. This is a follow up to the successful Innovation Competition held earlier this year. Both competitions, intended for financial service providers, are designed to improve the lives of at least one million smallholder farmers and people living in poverty in rural areas of Sub-Saharan African countries.

A number of challenges have prevented the financial services and agribusiness sectors from developing and scaling up the financial products and services that farmers and rural poor people need. These challenges include the high costs to traditional financial service providers of doing business in remote areas, the lack of staff know-how to design appropriate products and the fact that many farm families are unaware of the benefits they might obtain by accessing the formal financial system.

Those who make their living from agriculture, either directly or indirectly, make up two-thirds of Africa’s workforce, live largely in rural areas and are among the continent’s most marginalized people. Only about one percent of all commercial bank lending across the continent goes to the agricultural sector.

“We are looking to help financial service providers expand an innovative product, service or program that is currently in operation but may only reach a limited number of smallholder farmers or rural poor in Africa,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at the Foundation. “Smallholder farmers – many of them women – depend on agriculture to sustain their livelihoods. We need to enable much larger numbers of people to benefit from access to formal financial products and services in order to transform their lives. This is what the Scaling Competition is all about.”

This latest initiative will focus on Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to expand the most promising ideas or pilots that will foster financial inclusion for smallholder farmers. Through this competition, the Fund expects to see changes at a scale that will positively influence the financial services environment of these countries.

The Scaling Competition comes after the Innovation Competition which closed in March 2015. The two competitions operate under the Fund for Rural Prosperity, managed in partnership with KPMG’s International Development Advisory Services, Africa. Analysis of more than 400 entries in the Innovation Competition is ongoing; the announcement of the winners of up to one million dollars in support will take place on October 1st.

For the current Scaling Competition, applicants have until September 30, 2015 to submit proposals for expanding business products or services in the eight countries. The final selection of winning proposals is expected to be made in early 2016. Two more Innovation and Scaling Competitions under the Fund for Rural Prosperity will be held in 2016 and 2017.

More information, including application forms, guidance notes and information on eligible countries can be found on the website www.frp.org



The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.


KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We have more than 155,000 outstanding professionals working together to deliver value in 155 countries worldwide. KPMG’s International Development Advisory Services, Africa (“KPMG IDAS”), is an Africa-wide department hosted by the KPMG Kenya member firm and is a global Centre of Excellence for development work on the continent. The firm has adopted a pan-African approach to development, employing full-time development experts complemented by a network of specialized consultants across Africa. KPMG IDAS is currently implementing some of the largest, most exciting and innovative development programmes in Africa for a variety of public and private sector clients. For more information, please visit: www.kpmg.com/das


For more information, please contact:

Rose Ndung’u

Operations Manager

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity




Roger Morier

Senior Communications Manager, Financial Inclusion

The MasterCard Foundation