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 19

Strategies for supporting sustainable and climate-smart advisory services

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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