Mapping the knowledge landscape on digital innovations in agri-SME finance

Over the summer, the SAFIN learning agenda on digital innovations for agri-SME finance was taken forward through several activities. These include the preparation of an overview of the literature on innovative digital solutions that support financial service providers or that help agri-SMEs to improve their bankability and market access.

The overview note, which mainly builds on publications and knowledge activities led by SAFIN partners, shows that more attention has been given so far to small farmers rather than to agri-SMEs in studying digital solutions in agriculture. It also identifies evidence gaps around some critical questions of relevance to SAFIN partners, such as the impact of digital innovations in the agri-SME finance space, the commercial viability of different innovations or of the business models developed around them, and whether and to what extent these innovations require the deployment of highly concessional capital.

Photo: IFAD/Edward Echwalu

On 06 September, the SAFIN Technical Specialist moderated a side-event of the AGRF Deal Room on the topic of digital financial services for agriculture. The event brought together three SAFIN partners: Oluwafunto Olasemo of AFEX Commodities Exchange Ltd, Wambui Chege of the African Development Bank, and Matthew Shakhovskoy of ISF Advisors.

The discussion revolved around the potential of different models, products and services to address challenges related to access to finance for smallholder farmers and agri-SMEs in Africa. The exchange highlighted the importance of tailoring digital solutions to local needs and the need to develop relevant market and infrastructure to expand access to finance, markets, and services in order to achieve transformative change.