The MasterCard Foundation Launches $50 Million Fund to Help Smallholder Farmers in Africa

Fund will promote innovation in financial services to improve lives of one million

Nairobi, Kenya, 20th January 2015 — The MasterCard Foundation today launched a US$50 million challenge fund to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa by enabling businesses to begin or expand financial services in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Over the last decade, many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have enjoyed substantial economic growth but much of this growth has not benefitted the rural poor, especially smallholder farmers who are mostly women and who depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “This new Fund will stimulate private sector organizations to provide affordable and accessible savings, credit and insurance products. These services are essential to enable African farmers to increase productivity and incomes and, ultimately, grow rural economies.”

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity will support innovative ideas that have the potential to grow to scale and also have a deep social impact on the lives of rural people living in poverty throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The Fund will operate under two broad categories:

  • Innovation: $15 million will support the development of ideas for new products, services or processes that increase access to finance for the rural poor; and
  • Scaling: $35 million will help to scale the most promising ideas or pilots that have the potential to drive financial inclusion for smallholder farmers in new geographic areas.

The majority of rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa remain financially excluded. Over 70 percent of these families derive a large portion of their income from agricultural activities. Many financial service providers lack the knowledge and capacity to develop appropriate products and services that would enable the rural poor and smallholder farmers to become financially included.

Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, said: “Over the last decade, the Central Bank of Kenya has championed financial inclusion supported by innovation in the financial services sector in Kenya. As a result, the proportion of Kenyans who are unbanked has declined from 38.4 percent in 2006 to 32.7 percent in 2009 and 25 percent in 2013.  Kenya’s vision as espoused in its developmental blueprint, ‘’Vision 2030’’ is to leapfrog penetration of financial services by 2030. Financial inclusion is the surest way to achieve inclusive growth for Kenya. We expect that this initiative by The MasterCard Foundation will be critical to achieving this vision by extending financial services to a broader spectrum of rural households.”

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity will be managed by KPMG International Advisory Services. Initial applications for innovation proposals will be accepted from January 20, 2015 to March 20, 2015 for projects in 24 countries (see list of countries below). Later in the year, applicants will have the opportunity to submit proposals for scaling business ideas, products or services in eight countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia). More information, including application forms, guidance notes and details on eligible countries are on the website:



The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada with over US$9 billion in assets.  Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper.  The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa.  Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity.  The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO.  For more information on the Foundation, please visit:



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. We have 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:


NOTE TO EDITORS: The 24 countries where The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity will operate its innovation competition are: Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, DRC, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.


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