Moving food from farm gate to plate

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) perform key functions that move food from the farm gate to our plates: supplying inputs to farmers, aggregating, transporting and processing farmers’ yields, and selling agricultural products to consumers. Agricultural SMEs are pioneers in sustainable food systems transformation who elevate resilience to shocks among small-scale farmers, pivot their business models in response to crises, develop innovations for better nutrition and sustainability for all, and generate economic opportunities in rural and urban areas.

What is an agricultural SME?


More than 5 but less than 250 employees (at least 25 members for farmers’ organizations)

Annual turnover

Ranging from US$100,000 – $5 Million

Total assets

At least US$20,000

Financing needs

Typically US$50,000 -$2 Million

A persistent financing gap

Despite the vital role that agricultural SMEs play in food systems, they struggle to access finance that is tailored to their specific needs. Small-scale lenders such as microfinance institutions often provide financing below the capital needs of SMEs, while commercial lenders often find it too costly and too risky to lend to these enterprises. Agricultural SMEs therefore constitute the hidden middle of this equation- a market segment whose financing needs remain largely unmet to date.

Commercial lenders tend to serve larger enterprises seeking financing of US$ 2 million or more.

Microfinance institutions struggle to service clients with financing needs above US$ 50,000.

Towards inclusive ecosystems

Every agricultural SME relies on other individuals or organizations in its external environment to access finance, inputs, markets, training, policies and other resources that can support the growth of their business. Each player in the agricultural finance ecosystem has a key role to play in improving the business performance and access to finance of agricultural SMEs. By building bridges across these players, SAFIN aims to foster effective and inclusive ecosystems in which diverse institutions work in concert to increase the flow of capital towards agricultural SMEs.