Raising agri-SME visibility in discussions on the global architecture for food system finance

This quarter has seen an acceleration of the pace of conversations about whether the current financial architecture around food and agriculture is “fit for purpose” for the agenda of sustainable food systems, which is central to the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit. Besides convening three dialogues on the role of finance for agri-SMEs – notably youth and women-led SMEs – between January and April, with a number of partners from the private sector and civil society, SAFIN has been closely involved in various strands of the Summit process, recognizing its potential to drive new commitments and innovative actions in the agri-SME finance space, both globally and in participating countries. An informal knowledge-sharing and coordination group of partners has been in place since the first quarter to share news and plans concerning Summit preparations and to bring partners’ knowledge and priorities to bear upon selected proposals for action that have emerged from the process.

Photo: IFAD / Edward Echwalu

Among these, a proposal for a regional de-risking facility for financial intermediaries serving African agri-SMEs has benefitted from SAFIN partners’ inputs, and so has a proposal for a knowledge sharing and technical assistance platform of Public Development Banks (PDBs) with rural and agricultural mandates.

The SAFIN Senior Coordinator has continued to serve as finance lead for one of the Summit Action Tracks, promoting the agenda of agri-SME finance and the priorities emerging from the network in that context. Starting in May, a global program of consultations and a competition for innovative SME business models in the food system has been in place, informed by the agri-SME taxonomy developed by ISF Advisors for SAFIN earlier this year. Network partners have also been championing this process, which aims to bring the voices of SMEs in different countries to the table, as national pathways for food system transformation are shaped. SAFIN’s work on blended finance – including a report co-authored with Convergence that was released in April – was recalled in a number of Summit-related dialogues and the Senior Coordinator was entrusted with leading a discussion group on blended finance and food system transformation at the Summit Global Dialogue on Finance on 14 June.