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Innovating fintech services for smallholder farmers

AgriFin Accelerate (AFA) is a six-year, USD 24.7-million programme, funded by MasterCard Foundation and implemented by Mercy Corps in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. AFA considers itself to be a market facilitator, helping market players to overcome systemic constraints that inhibit the functioning of the innovation market for digital financial and information services (DFS and DIS).

The AFA approach is twofold, focusing first on partner engagement, brokering and coordinating partnerships between institutions that offer complementary skills and product/service offerings. Secondly, AFA provides technical assistance to support its partners to innovate and develop DFS and DIS that reach smallholder farmers. The programme aims to expand access to DFS and DIS to one million smallholder farmers by 2021.

Genesis and The Springfield Centre were contracted by Mercy Corps and the MasterCard Foundation to conduct the mid-term evaluation of AFA. The Genesis-Springfield team applied a market-systems development lens to the evaluation, and aimed to embed the core principles of the approach, including scale, sustainability and market facilitation.

The evaluation was both backward and forward-looking, assessing the performance of the project to date, while also providing recommendations based on the findings to inform future strategy. The forward-looking component specifically considered the intended shift in the latter half of the project from building institution-focused engagements to achieving scale and catalysing ecosystem change.

The collaborative approach to the evaluation included theory of change and validation workshops with the AFA team and MasterCard Foundation. This helped map a pathway to consolidation of programme activities and a greater focus on learning and knowledge dissemination, guiding the team to have a greater system-wide influence in the agricultural finance sector.

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