San Francisco-based microlender Kiva has announced a five-year, $7.9 million grant from the MasterCard Foundation to test and scale services and loan products tailored to the unique needs of smallholder farmers and rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa.
The grant will enable Kiva Labs to introduce or scale financial product/service innovations among selected social enterprises and microfinance institutions serving smallholder farmers and rural populations; improve the capacity of social enterprises and microcredit providers to design and distribute new products; and evaluate the impact of these products and services and disseminate the results across the microcredit and financial inclusion sector globally. Ideas under consideration include flexible repayment schedules, market linkages designed to help clients maximize their return on capital, and low-cost financing for undercapitalized innovators and social enterprises.
"Kiva has demonstrated ingenuity in developing new ways to enable smallholder farmers and others living in rural and remote areas of Africa to access the working capital they need and want," said Ann Miles, director of Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods at the MasterCard Foundation. "We're proud to partner with Kiva and Kiva Labs to support innovation in this important sector, expand the range of possibilities, and empower larger numbers of people to improve their livelihoods."