Pulse Blogs

We jointly author and publish the Pulse series with the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab to track key developments in agricultural finance and highlight research findings that can move our sector towards a systems approach.

Pulse 22

Rethinking our understanding of Agri-SMEs: A comprehensive taxonomy

We were commissioned by SAFIN to develop a framework for more comprehensively considering agri-SMEs as well as the specific types of support that would unlock their growth potential. This research highlights the importance of agri-SMEs in the food system, building off of current classifications of agri-SMEs to create a more comprehensive taxonomy based on key profiling dimensions.

Read More
Pulse 21

Digital data sharing in agriculture: Mercy Corps AgriFin case study

We examined 33 engagements between Mercy Corps’ AgriFin program and 14 partners across four different countries, uncovering lessons about the common barriers faced by data-sharing arrangements. In distilling these lessons, we hope to provide practical guidance and tools for overcoming these barriers to the broader ecosystem of actors involved in optimizing data sharing for agriculture.

Read More
Pulse 20

How governments incentivize private sector involvement in agricultural finance

How can governments create, incentivize, and regulate space for the private sector in agricultural finance? It’s not one-size-fits-all: Various countries have approached this challenge in different ways. By looking at different cases, we can uncover trends that might point governments in the right direction.

Read More
Pulse 19

Strategies for supporting sustainable and climate-smart advisory services

In collaboration with the Swiss Re Foundation, we map out opportunities to deliver sustainable and effective advisory services focused on climate-smart agriculture at scale.

Read More
Pulse 18

Understanding the transition pathways and service needs of rural youth

Anchored in the research and models presented in the Pathways to Prosperity report, this deep dive explores the specific considerations that service providers, governments and donors need to take into account when looking to support different pathway transitions for youth.

Read More
Pulse 17

Understanding women’s rural transitions and service needs

Anchored in the research and models presented in the Pathways to Prosperity report, this deep dive explores the specific considerations that service providers and donors need to take into account when looking to support different pathway transitions for rural women.

Read More
Pulse 16

The capital markets: An increasingly sophisticated market still grappling with the impact-return trade-off

Highlights some of the major shifts and trends that have shaped the capital market for rural service provision since the 2016 Inflection Point report. Further, we note the ongoing challenges of efficient and effective capital allocation in a market that continues to rely heavily on subsidy, and present a new pathways-based approach to segmenting the need for capital.

Read More
Pulse 15

Rural finance providers: A new segmentation for an expanding market

Highlights some of the major shifts and trends that have shaped the FSP market since the ‘innovation inflection point.’ Further, we present a new segmentation of FSPs, that goes beyond type of FSP to create segments based on organizations’ underlying ‘Primary Goal for Service Delivery’ and ‘Service Delivery Model.’

Read More
Pulse 14

Transition Pathways: A Dynamic View of How Rural Households Evolve

Discusses the importance of shifting away from a static view of smallholder household segments and presents a new dynamic model of ‘transition pathways’ that articulates how smallholder households and rural agricultural small and medium enterprises (SMEs) tend to develop over time.

Read More
Pulse 13

Building multiple markets: The case for smart digital investments

What AgTech and FinTech can learn from the microfinance experience: don’t build it yourself. This blog examines the opportunities and lessons learned from connecting financial services with technology solutions for smallholder farmers.

Read More
Pulse 12

A global smallholder weather update: Shocks guaranteed, losses optional

We believe that agricultural insurance is an important financial service that both protects farmers and can help improve their productivity over time. In response to increasing market interest, we developed a report, “Protecting growing prosperity: Agricultural insurance in the developing world.” This blog revisits the findings and provides an update on some of the recent developments in agricultural insurance since the report’s initial release.

Read More
Pulse 11

Skills for success: FSP perspectives on business development support for smallholder finance

To better understand the experiences and perspectives of FSPs who utilize these BDS providers, we surveyed 47 organizations from around the world: predominantly MFIs, commercial banks, NGOs, and social lenders. This blog offers highlights from the survey in the hope that all market participants—FSPs, BDS providers, and donors—can better understand this ecosystem which is supporting and shaping the development of financial services for smallholders around the world.

Read More
Pulse 10

The business case of smallholder finance

The SDM case study series evaluates the service delivery models of financial service providers (FSPs) that are providing credit to smallholders, with the aim of helping FSPs holistically assess how they operate their SDM and identifying opportunities to optimize key business model ingredients to serve smallholders profitably and at scale.

Read More
Pulse 9

Grant me clarity: Understanding donor dynamics in grant-based subsidy

Shares highlights from a review of the major donor agendas currently shaping the development of global smallholder finance via grant-based subsidy.

Read More
Pulse 8

Show me the data: Using data to unlock access to finance for smallholders

Without transparent markets and reliable data, stakeholders across the value chain are unable to make smart decisions on how to improve smallholder financial solutions. We highlight gaps in data transparency, organizations working to make data more accessible, and the role stakeholders can play in bringing data transparency to the next level.

Read More
Pulse 7

What’s your impact?

The sector has come a long way in understanding impact, but there remains significant knowledge gaps when it comes to farm level impact of financial services. We identify four areas where providers, agribusinesses, and donors need to allocate resources toward improving the sector’s understanding of impact.

Read More
Pulse 6

Enabling environment and smallholder finance: A complex relationship

The relationship between the enabling environment and smallholder finance is complex, and to date, there is limited research on the link between the success of specific smallholder products, services, factors in the enabling environment. This Pulse blog highlights some early learnings from the Mastercard Foundation’s rural and agricultural finance portfolio and makes recommendations for future research to close the knowledge gap.

Read More
Pulse 5

Agricultural technical assistance: Catching up to its potential

In 2013 we developed a first of its kind global view of the technical assistance (TA) landscape for smallholder farmers. As part of this research, we developed a typology of existing programs in the TA landscape. This Pulse blog highlights trends, spots of activity, and action steps for improving TA.

Read More
Pulse 4

Fund management and inclusive agribusiness: A global perspective

A summation of the findings in our Fund Manager Perspective Briefing Note, which interrogates how different impact-oriented agribusiness funds combine public and private capital to build a more inclusive agricultural market.

Read More
Pulse 3

Going far, together: Breaking silos to unlock smallholder finance

Sector actors are increasingly aware that progressive partnerships are one of the most promising ways to feasibly structure finance and financial services for smallholder farmers. As partners align on pre-competitive or symbiotic goals to develop inclusive markets, we share lessons about how best to facilitate them and how to make them highly productive.

Read More
Pulse 2

Putting farmers first: Understanding what smallholders really want

One of the biggest obstacles to financing smallholder farmers has been understanding who they are and – by extension – what their needs are. A client-centered approach will allow us to close the gap between farmer need and farmer demand by offering what farmers really want.

Read More
Pulse 1

Onward and upward: Using a systems approach to unlock smallholder finance potential

Following our findings in Inflection Point, we are working from a whole new model of the sector. Instead of seeing a parallel series of distribution channels, we see a complex and interconnected ecosystem of different stakeholders. In light of this new systems approach, the sector needs to rethink the ways in which we navigate farmer financing demand and answer big questions on what tools we use to address it. The Pulse is dedicated to understanding this new landscape.

Read More

Check out our state of the sector reports & briefing notes.

You can also contact us or sign up for our newsletter.