Our research and deep sector understanding
informs our advisory and
implementation work.

ISF’s role as an intermediary and advisory group is informed by the landmark research published in Inflection Point.

By understanding the broader ecosystem around smallholder finance and rural enterprises, ISF identifies specific roles and leverage points for stakeholders at all stages of growth and development throughout the smallholder ecosystem.

To learn more about our research, explore our comprehensive Briefing Series below or engage with our shorter multi-media resources here.

Our Research


Inflection Point: Unlocking growth in the era of farmer finance

Inflection Point suggests that while current activities to expand financial inclusion are not sufficient to meet smallholder demand, concerted efforts around customer centricity, progressive partnerships, and smart subsidy have the potential to change the sector’s growth trajectory to better serve the world’s smallholder farmers.

Briefing Landscape report - Category: Technical Assistance Provider

Protecting growing prosperity: Agricultural insurance in the developing world

This landscape report highlights the current status and future development of agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers.

Briefing 16 - Category: Capital Advisors

Getting smarter on subsidy: The role of grant funding in smallholder finance

This briefing note aims to assess the role of grant funding in smallholder finance and understand how it can be used to unlock financing for millions of smallholders.

Briefing 15 - Category: Capital Providers

The fund manager perspective: Moving the needle on inclusive agribusiness investment

This briefing note interrogate how different impact-oriented agribusiness funds combine public and private capital to build a more inclusive agricultural market.

Briefing 14 - Category: Financial Service Providers

Financial inclusion fit to size: Customizing digital credit for smallholders in Tanzania

This briefing note explores the causes of low uptake in digital credit for smallholders to better understand how we can develop concrete product solutions to jump-start adoption of digital credit products by them.

Briefing 13 - Category: Capital Providers

The Climate Conundrum: Financing smallholder productivity and resilience in the age of climate change

This briefing note explores the latest practices from the climate finance community and the agricultural finance community to understand how new combined models can boost returns and attract new investors.

Briefing 12 - Category: Capital Providers

Unlocking Local Currency Lending: Foreign Exchange Risk in Agricultural Finance

This briefing note details how philanthropic investment can play an influential role in mitigating foreign exchange risk.

Briefing 11 - Category: Financial Service Providers

How Big Data and Data Science Are Changing Smallholder Finance

This briefing note explores how innovative lenders are using new data sources and analytics to assess the creditworthiness of borrowers.

Briefing 10 - Category: Financial Service Providers

Value Chain Financing: How Agro-Enterprises Can Serve as Alternate Aggregation Points

This briefing note explores three channels through which value chain financing models can be delivered and identifies how these models can group “enablers” to best serve smallholders.

Briefing 9 - Category: Technical Assistance Providers

Case Study: The Return on Investment from Technoserve’s Coffee Initiative

As a case study of a TechnoServe project aiming to increase incomes of smallholder coffee farmers in East Africa, this briefing note focuses in particular on the value of technical assistance to increase access to finance, crowd-in the private sector, achieve scale, and generate value for an industry.

Briefing 8 - Category: Technical Assistance Providers

Rethinking Technical Assistance to Unlock Smallholder Financing

This briefing note discusses how agricultural technical assistance in the developing world maps to addressing various specific financing constraints for smallholder farmers.

Briefing 7 - Category: Technical Assistance Providers

Technical Assistance for Smallholder Farmers: An Anatomy of the Market

This briefing note categorizes and characterizes the different kinds of agricultural technical assistance in operation in developing countries around the world.

Briefing 6 - Category: Financial Service Providers

Lending a Hand: How Direct-to-Farmer Finance Providers Reach Smallholder

This briefing note features an overview of how 150+ finance providers currently offer direct-to-farmer finance, using a range of approaches to address core challenges associated with lending directly to these smallholders.

Briefing 5 - Category: Capital Providers

Investor and Funder Guide to the Agricultural Social Lending Sector

Drawing on groundbreaking aggregate analysis of leading social lenders’ lending portfolios and metrics, this briefing note examines current lending practices among social lenders, considers the future trajectory of the sector, and highlights opportunities for investors and funders to support the sector’s future growth.

Briefing 4 - Category: Policy Makers

The Role of Government in Developing Agricultural Finance

This briefing note reflects on the role of capital markets within the context of historical agricultural sector development by considering the role of government policy in enhancing rather than replacing credit provided by private actors.

Briefing 3 - Category: Market & Research Platforms

Smallholder Impact and Risk Metrics: A Labyrinth of Opportunity

This briefing note takes stock of the existing landscape of smallholder impact and risk measurement and devises tools and suggestions to align these efforts for greater future impact.

Briefing 2 - Category: Financial Service Providers

A Roadmap for Growth – Positioning Local Banks for Success in Smallholder Finance

This briefing note explores what is required for a healthy, competitive smallholder banking sector, and identifies investment opportunities for public and commercial funders seeking to support smallholders.

Briefing 1 - Category: Financial Service Providers

Local Bank Financing for Smallholder Famers – A $9 Billion Drop in the Ocean

This briefing note provides an overview of the market size and scope of local bank lending to smallholder farmers.

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