About the event

Agriculture cooperatives are an integral part of agriculture value chains. They enable their member farmers to reduce operational costs, increase productivity, and enhance profitability by collectively procuring high-quality inputs and selling agricultural produce to the markets. In addition, many cooperatives provide financial services to their members. These services are neither well-recorded nor properly regulated in many countries, but agriculture cooperatives are prominent providers of financial services (prominently credit, but in many cases also of deposit, insurance, and payment services) for many farmers who are often excluded from formal financial services.This webinar will explore how to enhance access to finance for smallholder farmers by supporting agriculture cooperatives and provide a space to discuss if and how to integrate them into the financial sector regulation, supervision, and financial safety net.



Niraj Verma, Practice Manager, Long-Term Finance, FCI GP, World Bank (Chair)

Niraj Verma is a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank’s South Asia Region Finance and Private Sector Development Unit. He has extensive expertise in financial inclusion and banking sector matters, with a focus on microfinance, agriculture credit and insurance, SME lending, and banking sector restructuring and development.

Niraj has played a leading role in providing technical assistance to the Agriculture Insurance Company of India, addressing various technical and operational challenges associated with weather and area-indexed insurance. His contributions have been instrumental in advancing agricultural insurance initiatives. Niraj holds a degree in economics and an MBA.



Juliette Hensgens, Project Manager, RaboBank

Juliette Hensgens is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in project management, financial services, and legal advisory roles. Currently serving as a Project Manager at Rabobank International, she has excelled in driving capacity building initiatives, enhancing financial access, and optimizing agricultural value chains. Juliette’s expertise in credit analysis and financial restructuring has been instrumental in delivering impactful outcomes. With a strong legal background in contract, labor, and intellectual property law, complemented by an MSc in Business Law from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, she brings a unique blend of skills to her work. Juliette is a dedicated and accomplished professional, consistently striving for excellence.



Michael Von During, Technical Specialist, SAFIN

Michael has developed a career at the intersection of impact investing and agriculture. He began in the field of microfinance investment with Symbiotics, where managed the portfolio for Central America. He then joined AlphaMundi to launch their operations in financing sustainable agriculture around the world. This was followed by a stint at Cargill to work on the design of credit assessment solutions for the company’s global commodities trading operations, before returning to social investment to work on structuring blended finance solutions for Water.org’s first Water Credit fund, followed by the design of IFAD’s Agri-Business Capital (ABC) Fund. He holds a BA in Business Management from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, as well as a Masters in International Relations from the University of Chicago in the USA.


Marelvi Hortencia Bernal Nempeque, Intendente, Superintendencia de la Economía Solidaria, Colombia

Marelvi Hortencia Bernal Nempeque is a highly respected professional serving as an Intendente at the Superintendencia de la Economía Solidaria in Colombia. With a strong background in the field, she has made significant contributions to the development and regulation of the solidary economy sector in the country. Marelvi’s expertise spans areas such as cooperative governance, financial management, and risk assessment. Her dedication to promoting transparency, sustainability, and ethical practices has played a pivotal role in fostering a thriving and inclusive economic environment.

Marelvi Hortencia Bernal Nempeque is recognized for her exceptional leadership, deep industry knowledge, and commitment to driving positive change within the solidary economy sector in Colombia.


Norbert Tuyishime, Program Officer, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF)

Norbert has over 10 years of experience in international agricultural development in East Africa with a focus on capacity building programs for farmers, building strategic partnerships with private sector to offer market-based solutions, participating in agriculture policy processes at various levels and collaborating with agriculture research organizations, international NGOs and donors to support agriculture transformation in Africa. He has a Master of Science in Agricultural and Applied Economics from University of Nairobi & Pretoria (with specialization in International Trade and Agricultural Policy).



Albert Boogaard, Head Smallholder Solutions, Rabobank

Albert Boogaard is the Head Smallholder Solutions at Rabobank, a role he has held since February 2021. With over 14 years of experience in various positions within Rabobank, Albert brings extensive expertise in driving innovation and developing impactful solutions for smallholder farmers. Prior to his current role, he served as the Head Innovation at Rabobank Foundation, where he focused on data-driven innovations to enhance access to financial services and promote farmer organization. He holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Development Economics from Wageningen University & Research, showcasing his deep understanding of the economic intricacies of the agricultural sector.

Albert’s dedication to supporting emerging markets and leveraging innovative finance, digital technologies, and data-driven solutions has positioned him as a key contributor to Rabobank’s mission of empowering smallholder farmers globally.


Antonella Cianciotta, Programme Manager & Technical Specialist for the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP) initiative, IFAD

Antonella Cianciotta is a Programme Manager and Technical Specialist for the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific (FO4ACP) initiative at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). With over 10 years of experience, she is responsible for managing, implementing, and providing technical advice and supervision for regional programs. Antonella specializes in strengthening partnerships, policy development, and advocacy. Previously, she served as a Programme Analyst, focusing on inclusive processes with civil society organizations. She also worked as a Financial Management Specialist, overseeing EC funded programs. Antonella began her career as an intern at the Controller’s and Financial Services Division of IFAD and conducted research on sectorial a Antonella Cianciotta is a highly educated professional with a strong academic background.

She completed the Women’s Leadership Development Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford in 2022, and holds a Master’s Degree in Development Economics and International Cooperation from the University of Rome and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Bari “Aldo Moro”.



Event Details:

Location: Online

Organizer: World Bank Group


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