Agricultural alliance, CSAF, provides over $500M in loans
In April 2014, seven social lenders — Alterfin, Oikocredit, Rabobank, responsAbility Investments AG, Root Capital, the Shared Interest Society and Triodos Investment Management teamed up to form the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF). CSAF provides a global forum for leading impact-oriented agricultural lenders to exchange learning, identify best practices and develop industry standards.
CSAF this week announced that its members provided US$ 564 million in loans to 658 small and medium-sized businesses across 64 countries in 2014, an increase of 56% from 2013.
Reaching the ‘missing middle’
This growth in lending was driven by continued geographic expansion, particularly in Africa and Latin America, diversification into new crops, and a wider range of financial products and services. CSAF members target agricultural businesses in the rural ‘missing middle’ that typically amass anywhere from a few hundred up to several thousand small-scale farmers. Loans usually range from $50,000 to $2 million – too large for microfinance but generally considered too small and too risky by commercial banks.
Oikocredit’s global head of agriculture, Frank Rubio, said: “Investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways of reducing rural poverty and addressing the challenge of food security. Oikocredit is collaborating with a number of its peers in the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) and channels capital into the agricultural sector to unlock this potential.”
Linking 1.2 million households
Businesses accessing finance from CSAF members linked over 1.2 million households to formal markets by purchasing from them approximately US$ 3 billion worth of agricultural products, from coffee, cocoa and cashews to sorghum, soy and sesame. Many of these enterprises also provided individual farmers with reliable and affordable access to credit, equipment and training to facilitate adoption of sustainable production practices in the face of climate change.
For more information on CSAF, visit www.csaf.net.