Digital Platforms for Agriculture in SSA & Matchmaking for Transformation

Nov 9, 2020 | Data & Tech Acceleration, Digital Financial Services

Mercy Corps AgriFin has partnered with GIZ to produce a series of blog posts focused on insights and lessons learned associated with digital platforms for agriculture. This initial post focuses on the core aspect of “matchmaking” between large digital platforms hosted by commercial banks, mobile network operators, agribusiness and government and the innovators that can bring a host of critical services for farmers and food systems. Upcoming blogs in this series will focus on learnings from platform and innovator specific deep dives, followed by a Digital Platform Blueprint Report later in the year. Access the full length text. 

The challenges in agriculture in Africa, particularly for smallholder farmers producing 80% of its food for consumption, are complex, and no single solution exists to reverse age-old issues around markets, infrastructure, poverty and exclusion.

The effective application of digital technology has emerged as a catalytic tool in addressing market gaps and challenges faced in agriculture, including for smallholder farmers (SHFs) at the end of the last mile. Africa has seen an emergence of fintech and agtech innovators beginning to break down the barriers in agriculture, including the delivery of financial services, inputs, mechanization, logistics, market access, business management and learning tools.

Fintechs and agtechs typically face major challenges in driving breakthrough solutions to scale and commercial viability. One pathway for innovators to gain traction in markets is to integrate technology into product and service offerings with mainstream banks, mobile network operators and other companies in order to improve their use and delivery to consumers. Digital platforms can host multiple service providers, working to offer “end-to-end” services to drive transformation in agricultural markets and impact for SHFs, while decreasing risks and increasing revenue models for fintechs, agtechs and other market actors.

Over the past five years, Mercy Corps AgriFin programs have worked with more than 130 partners both to build capacity of fintech and agtech innovators to scale and broker partnerships for them onto larger digital platforms, typically hosted by banks, mobile network operators, large agricultural enterprises and government. These digital platforms are evolving as strong drivers for impact and viability in delivery of key services for agriculture and also for scale up of young, breakthrough technology providers, which have scaled services through a range of platform partners.

The potential for transformation through the combination of digital platforms for scale and Africa’s thriving technology innovators is immense. GIZ and Mercy Corps AgriFin are working together to foster the expansion of services and development of select product bundles of key platform players in East and West Africa. This work culminates in a Digital Platform Blueprint Report later in the year. Continue reading.