About the event

The war in Ukraine began in February 2022, and evidence of its impact on global food systems continues to grow. Yet, much uncertainty remains around its effect on different actors in the agriculture sector, particularly agri-SMEs and the institutions that finance them. While it is understood that most enterprises are facing inflationary pressures, especially related to the increased cost of inputs and fuel, it is less clear how enterprises operating at different stages of the value chain (upstream, midstream or downstream) are being affected. Indeed, this latest economic shock is compounding existing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and internal conflicts in some cases. Agri-SMEs operating in different contexts are facing a range of challenges such as the need for alternative sources of supply, new markets to sell their products as well as responses to increasingly localized markets.

Similarly, the financial sector is being affected in different ways depending on the country and sector of operation. Financiers must navigate the current cost of capital, perception of risk associated with agriculture and SME investments, as well as the risk assessment and management tools available. Relatively little is known about the immediate and long term impacts of these considerations, which will largely determine whether the financial ecosystem around agri-SMEs can absorb higher costs and risks, or support agri-SMEs in adapting to evolving market dynamics. As new information emerges on the immediate and long-term impact of the war in Ukraine on food systems, a structured reflection on the implications for access to finance in the agriculture sector is needed, both in terms of key challenges and opportunities.

With this in mind, SAFIN is organizing a virtual event that will explore how the conflict has affected this particular group of actors across the most effected regions of the globe, including Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. The session is designed for practitioners from the agriculture investment ecosystem, both global and local, as well as agri-SMEs themselves to ensure that both supply and demand side issues are covered. The event will feature three consecutive panels, starting with representatives of agri-SMEs active across the most affected geographies and value chains. These enterprises will share their experiences of the challenges and opportunities the crisis is presenting on their operations, the resulting financial implications and future consequences on their businesses. A panel of financial service providers active in these regions will then discuss how recent events are affecting their portfolio and funding activities including assessment of risk and their approach to addressing the financial needs of agri-SMEs in their current portfolio and beyond. Finally, the discussion will turn to international financing experts from the public, private and philanthropic sectors to explain how they are addressing the situation broadly and in relation to agri-SME finance within existing interventions.

Key questions

  • The discussion will revolve around the following questions:
    How have different types of SMEs been affected in terms the shifting costs of inputs and outputs, and market dynamics according to their context (activity and region of operation)? What financial or non-financial solutions are most relevant to address these issues?
  • What potential opportunities could or have already emerged due to higher prices or the emergence of stronger regional trade alliances? What are the costs and risks affecting investment decisions related to the agriculture sector, particularly in SMEs, as a result of the conflict?
  • What are local financial service providers currently doing to address the challenges agri-SMEs currently face as a result of these crises? How can we make sure that the actions and additional resources channelled by international actors to affected regions and sectors are designed to support the role of SMEs in local food systems?
  • What are the expected long-term implications of the war on food systems, trade, agricultural finance and food security?


Francisco “Frank” Rubio, Interim Senior Coordinator of SAFIN and Senior Technical Advisor for ABC Fund, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Frank is a development expert with 25 years of experience in agricultural finance, microfinance, technical assistance, training, and project management. He currently provides technical support to the ABC Fund and leadership in the growth of IFAD’s private sector portfolio. He recently took on the role of interim Senior Coordinator of SAFIN. Before this, he held progressively senior positions at the Inter-American Development Bank, Catholic Relief Services, CARE USA, and Oikocredit.

Madhur Gautam, Lead Economist, Agriculture Global Practice, World Bank Group

Mashrur is an electronics engineer by profession, an agricultural development enthusiast by passion, and a second-time founder. He also has 5 years of experience working in social development, chiefly for the youths and the rural population. Mashrur wants to enhance regional food security by developing a resilient agricultural industry where delivery of a pleasant experience to all related stakeholders, diversity, inclusion, and concerns about climate change matters. He loves listening to people, plays flute, and is eternally fascinated by the smell of books and soil in summer when it rains for the first.

Patience Bature, Chief Executive Officer, Parkea Ventures, Nigeria

Patience is the Founder and CEO of Parkea Ventures, which sources, processes and distributes more nutritious food for Nigerian consumers. They promote the West African wonder-grain fonio as an alternative to wheat and maize for making bread, baby food, flour and more. As imported wheat flour doubles in cost, fonio offers a rapidly scalable, nutritious, climate-resilient, staple crop that is grown domestically by women smallholder farmers.

Nouran El Said, Co-Founder, Plug’n’Grow, Egypt

Nouran is a Co-Founder of Plug’n’Grow, an Egyptian technology company that develops advanced and economic solutions in agriculture, based on proven Hydroponic and Aquaculture technology. They provide growers with highly efficient “Food Factories” that produce premium quality vegetables and fish at competitive and affordable costs.

Ruchi Jain, Chief Executive Officer, Taru Naturals, India

Ruchi is the CEO and Founder of TARU Naturals & Organics, a grassroots movement of 10,000 tribal & small-scale farmers across India. It is a fair trade network connecting farmers with healthy, pure and organic produce to markets. They strive to build self-sufficiency across agricultural value chains through climate-resilient agriculture, clean post-harvest technology, value added products and market linkages.

Ian Randall, Director and Principal Consultant, Good Food Hub

Ian is Director of the Good Food Hub, a global community of small businesses making food more nourishing, sustainable, equitable, and resilient. Ian established the hub after managing global SME engagement for the UN Food Systems Summit. Previously Ian has played a strategic role in founding and strengthening Generation Africa and Grow Africa, and through his consulting firm, Wasafiri, he has worked on food issues for the World Economic Forum, Mars, Yara, IMAGINE, and most G7 governments.

Prasun Das, Secretary General, Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA)

Prasun currently leads the Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) as its Secretary General. Prasun has previously held positions at IFAD, FAO and DFID in various capacities focusing on rural finance. He also held senior positions in a commercial bank and advised the Government of India on rural and agricultural development. Prasun holds a Doctoral Degree in Agricultural Sciences and MBA with specialization in Financial Management and is a certified professional in banking and finance.

George Macharia, General Manager, Food & Agriculture Banking, Equity Bank

George is a career banker with over 20 years of experience. In recent years, he has worked in rural and agricultural banking, including agricultural value chain mapping, development of financing products, and building human and other resources to deliver agricultural value chain finance. George is a trained accountant, enterprise development expert and certified Agricultural Finance professional.

Hussein Abou Bakr, Founder & CEO, Mozare3

Hussein has over 18 years of hands-on commercial and operational experience in agribusiness. He co-founded Mozare3, a leading agri-fintech platform that partners with small farmers, offering contract farming, input financing and digital agronomy support. Hussein holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Marketing from The American University in Cairo.

Thouraya Triki, Director, Sustainable Production, Markets and Institutions Division, IFAD

Thouraya directs IFAD’s Sustainable Production, Markets and Institutions Division. Before joining IFAD, she worked at the African Development Bank (AfDB) as a Manager in the Microeconomics, Institutions and Development Impact Division and as a Chief Country Economist at AfDB’s North Africa Regional Department. Before joining AfDB, Throuraya spent about 10 years in various positions in academia, and managing and consulting with private sector businesses. She holds a PhD in finance from HEC Montréal.

Nabil Ghalleb, Director, Economic Empowerment Department, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)

Dr. Ghalleb leads IsDB’s initiatives to institutionalize, mainstream and implement economic empowerment models and tools in the OIC Member Countries. Before this, he was the Chairman and founding CEO of “Zitouna Tamkeen”, an Islamic microfinance/economic empowerment institution in Tunisia. He also founded the International Center of Economic Empowerment and “Tamkeen for Development”, an NGO specialized in the economic inclusion of vulnerable populations. Previously, he held various senior positions at IsDB and served on the Boards of several financial institutions. Dr. Ghalleb holds a PhD in Finance from HEC Montreal.

Dr. Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit, Sustainable Agri-Food systems and Fisheries, Directorate-General (DG) for International Partnerships, European Commission

Dr. Mizzi has been in his current role since 2017. Prior to this, he was the Head of Unit in the DG for Agriculture and Rural Development. Dr. Mizzi has broad working experience in the Maltese public administration and private sector, including the Office of the Prime Minister, Office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise, Malta Business Bureau in Brussels, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. He has authored a number of articles and publications on agri-food issues and nutrition in the Mediterranean region. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Reading.

Songbae Lee, Agriculture Finance Team lead, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Songbae leads efforts at the USAID to mobilize private capital for agricultural finance. Most recently, he spent eight years at Calvert Impact Capital, a non-profit impact investing debt fund, where he was responsible for end-to-end deal origination, credit assessment, and ongoing portfolio monitoring. Previously, he worked for Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Banc of America Securities, and Mercy Corps in Kyrgyzstan. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.S. from the University of Vermont.

Bettina Prato, Lead Policy and Technical Advisor, Programme Management Department, IFAD

Bettina is currently a Lead Policy and Technical Advisor at IFAD and the former Senior Coordinator of SAFIN. In her previous roles, she served IFAD in several capacities, including as a Senior Global Engagement Specialist, as a co-author of the IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011 and contributor to a number of IFAD corporate strategies and policies. Bettina has twenty years of experience in international development, with particular focus on global development governance, development finance, food security and rural development. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Panos Varangis, Principal Agriculture Finance Specialist, International Finance Corporation

Panos is the Principal Operations Officer and Global Lead in Agricultural Finance at IFC. Prior to this, Panos was the Head of Agricultural Finance in the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation, Global Practice at the World Bank. Panos has been involved in various projects that facilitate financing for farmers and agri-SMEs by working on public policy issues, financial products and risk management. Panos previously served as the Deputy CEO of the Agricultural Bank of Greece and was a member of the Board of Birectors of Agrotiki Insurance and Mindbank. Panos holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University in New York.


Event Details:

Event dates: Jul 06, 2022, 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Location: Online

Organizer: SAFIN | IFC | IFAD | Good Food Hub



Quote: "The world currently faces a food crisis, triggered in part by the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. Agricultural SMEs (agri-SMEs) are a vital piece in the puzzle to address the food crisis," Frank Rubio, Senior Coordinator, ad. interim, SAFIN


Session videos: