As 282 million people faced acute hunger in 2023, agri-finance players joined hands to unlock finance for farmers and SMEs: Annual Report 2023

The El Niño weather phenomenon, conflicts, coups and growing inflation are among the realities farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in agriculture grappled with in 2023. As the journey from farm to fork became more challenging, financiers, major donors and enterprise support organizations came together with agricultural enterprises to close their persistent multi-billion capital gap through the Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN).

“In troubled times like these, working in silos is no longer an option. We need all hands on deck to finance the people and enterprises that feed the world. When institutions with diverse perspectives come together, we generate deeper insights and make more impactful investments than we could separately. In 2023, SAFIN members demonstrated that,” said Nadia Martinez, Senior Coordinator of SAFIN.

Highlights from 2023: Unlocking the power of networks

From mutual trust to collective impact

For years, SAFIN has built bridges among the different institutions that are active in agricultural finance through various initiatives. In 2023, the mutual trust, shared knowledge and partnerships nurtured during that time bore fruits that can make a difference for agricultural SMEs and farmers. In Uganda, Small Foundation and the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance (UAA) renewed their partnership to incubate collaboration platforms for stakeholders engaged in three agricultural value chains. The African Development Bank (AfDB) launched the Agri-food SME Catalytic Financing Mechanism (ACFM) to accelerate loans for agribusinesses in the region, building on SAFIN member insights that laid the foundation for its design. In India, recommendations from our Investment Prospectus for the Minor Millets Value Chain informed a US$13 million government investment to scale millet farming and consumption.

Turning market insights into strategic action

In 2023, SAFIN members and external experts including Palladium, the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF), the International Growth Centre (IGC), ISF Advisors and the International Fund for Agricultural Development jointly generated and disseminated new market intelligence for the sector. These insights have been adopted by several member institutions to improve or scale their agri-finance operations. A SAFIN-funded Evidence review for agricultural SME finance led to the launch of the Agri-SME Evidence Fund by Aceli Africa and IGC to inform future investments in sub-Saharan Africa. Our survey on financing farmer organizations has been instrumental in the design of a blended finance instrument by IFAD to channel more capital to such organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. AGRA’s Agribusiness Dealroom has integrated findings on the delivery and fee payment models of business development services from our recent study to enhance its support to agricultural enterprises.

Raising the agri-finance banner higher on the global agenda

Strategic influence and engagement with key decision-makers keeps financial inclusion for farmers and agricultural SMEs at the top of the global agenda. In 2023, SAFIN brought its agenda to new and familiar stakeholders, focusing on SMEs in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. At the Macfrut Fair in Italy, SAFIN co-hosted an ‘Agri-food SMEs Forum’ to build stronger linkages between Latin American businesses and Italian markets and share insights from our learning agenda on green finance. At the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) Stocktaking Moment, SAFIN hosted an exhibition booth and supported dialogue between top private and public sector actors around financing food systems transformation. In Africa, SAFIN hosted several sessions at the Africa Food Systems Forum, exploring SME-led solutions for food sovereignty in the continent. SAFIN also hosted a match-making session for small enterprises and big investors in the Africa Agri-Investment Indaba Conference.

Taking cutting-edge solutions where they are needed most

Adapting our insights and financial solutions to the contexts and needs of farmers and businesses in different geographies has been a top priority for SAFIN in recent years. SAFIN members convened into regional working groups, serving as an entry point to design joint ventures to address local challenges. In Asia and the Pacific, a group led by the Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) and the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) is co-developing climate finance solutions for producer organizations in the region. In LAC, a group led by Fundación Capital has agreed to explore biodiversity financing for farmers in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico. In 2024 and beyond, SAFIN members are actively developing solutions for small businesses in these regions and in sub-Saharan Africa.


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