Combining expertise and  insights 
Since 1974 Rabo Foundation uses its financial resources, network and expertise to support smallholder farmers in developing countries to improve their income and productivity. The fund has built knowledge and experience on agricultural financing and the needs of smallholder farmers. To maximize its impact, Rabo Foundation combines this experience with the latest insights in data science and digitization. The fund can also benefit from Rabobank's expertise and experience in the areas of credit scoring, credit risk modelling and different ways to improve products and services for farmers with data driven insights.

Innovation-related products and services
Rabo Foundation supports new and existing partners by:

  • providing financial products to financial institutions and agtech/fintech companies that provide innovative (financial) solutions to smallholder farmers;
  • enabling and connecting Rabo Foundation’s and Rabobank’s network;
  • act as a knowledge partner in the development of data-driven financial solutions and data-driven technology for smallholder farmers.

More than 1/3 of the food they grow gets lost in the supply chain and less than 15% of the total credit requirement is met. Innovative solutions are required to 

address the challenges. Rabo Foundation believes that digital and data-driven solutions  can improve its impact and outreach through its partners and with that contribute to a solution for these challenges. 

A changing environment
The environment of many smallholders is digitizing rapidly thanks to new technological developments, improved rural internet access and a growing (smart)phone penetration. Rabo Foundation believes that these technological developments can unlock opportunities for smallholder farmers.

For example, mobile phones allow farmers to open and manage savings accounts or obtain a loan from home instead of travelling many kilometres to a bank branch. And as satellite data can provide objective information about farming conditions in the area, insights can also be shared by (smart)phone to smallholder farmers that will help them to improve their harvests.

to respond to a changing world

Enabling Rabo Foundation partners

Rabo Foundation support solutions in four areas that make use of a combination of the following data sources:

Four areas of innovation
In the spotlights 

The Agri-wallet, a digital payment system, helps African farmers increase their output.

Apollo Agriculture aims to boost agricultural productivity by combining satellite data, mobile phones and digital banking.

Together with Rabobank's data specialists we developed a innovative credit model for Aldea Global to reach
more farmers.

Field information

Scalable solutions that will collect data at a farm household level (land size, dependents and location).

Supply chain data

Digitised supply chain data on farmer products (price, quality, quantity, time of delivery).

Remote sensing data

Scalable and cost effective remote sensing data based on a mix of technologies.

FinTech solutions

Fintech solutions and underlying infrastructure (wallets, payments).

One of the goals is to support existing clients of Rabo Foundation to improve their (financial) services and products via data driven insights and by connecting them to fintech/agtech solutions. At the same time innovation projects reaches farmers that could not be served through more traditional models. A combination of new digital tools and new business models – often platform based – provides a solution here and improves the outreach of Rabo Foundation.

To address the global food demand, smallholders will play an important role. To meet their full potential, multiple challenges need to be addressed. Farmers often produce as little as 20% of their potential.

A “digital wallet” is transforming
Kenyan farmers’ finances

What problem does it solve?
Small farmers generally have insufficient funds to invest in high-quality seeds or fertilizer, which can result in poor harvests. They often have no access to financing and if they are able to borrow money, it is usually not spent on the farm. By investing in good seeds and fertilizer, farmers can increase their productivity by 300 percent. That’s a life-changer – they can work their way out of poverty and produce enough food for the entire community.

Farmers who have insufficient money to invest can use Agri-wallet to take out a loan, which is why we work with Rabo Foundation. Farmers can borrow up to a third of the expected crop yield in blockchain tokens. That means that the loan can only be spent on agricultural products. After harvesting, the loan is automatically repaid through the cooperative payments.

What developments do you have in store?
At the end of next year we expect fifty thousand Kenyan farmers to be using our wallet. Thanks to the positive results, NGOs are asking us to develop the Agri-wallet for other countries as well, such as Rwanda, Benin and Bangladesh. Our long-term aim is for our Agri-wallet to be used in ten to fifteen countries throughout Africa.

Africa currently has a population of one billion, which is set to double in thirty years’ time. If nothing changes, the future population will not have enough food to sustain itself. That will lead to unrest and mass migrations. There is also an environmental impact because unless farmers learn to increase the productivity of the soil in their current plots, they will revert to felling forests to create more agricultural land.

When it comes to agricultural productivity per hectare, the Netherlands is a world leader. We have the know-how, the financial means and a moral duty to help the African continent. Wouldn’t it be great if Agri-wallet could contribute to that?

During a trip through Africa, Ad Rietberg and Sijmen de Hoogh witnessed the inspiring impact of mobile payments. “People were telling us how smartphone

payments had changed their lives,” recalls Rietberg. “They had never had a bank account before; some had never even had an address.”

Their trip resulted in the Dodore Foundation, established in 2010. The Foundation’s first project helped poverty-stricken mothers in a disadvantaged Nairobi neighborhood by paying ten euros in ‘child benefit’ every month via mobile phones. “Where it was impossible to reach these people in the past, we can now help in just two seconds from behind our desk in Amsterdam,” says Rietberg.

Other parties started asking Dodore to develop mobile wallets for healthcare and education projects. Recipients are paid subsidies directly which, thanks to blockchain technology, are earmarked for a specific purpose and cannot be spent on other things.

The potential of bringing a mobile wallet to agriculture was so clear that Rietberg and De Hoogh decided to market Agri-wallet themselves. Rietberg explains the power of mobile money for improving food security and making global finance more inclusive.

What exactly is Agri-wallet?
It is a mobile purse that farmers with smallholdings can use to manage their business’s finances. Agri-wallet was not developed for donations – it is actually a kind of microbank that has a bank account, a savings account and a borrowing facility.

The Agri-wallet is currently being used by six thousand farmers in Kenya through the 25 cooperatives we work with. The cooperatives pay 10 percent of their farmers in blockchain tokens using Agri-wallet. The farmers can only spend these tokens in shops that sell agricultural products such as seeds and artificial fertilizer.


The Agri-wallet, a digital payment system funded by loans from Rabo Foundation, was created to help African farmers increase their output. By keeping funds within the agricultural supply chain, the system creates “a secure form of microfinancing."

Targeted financing through 
innovative technology

Apollo’s goal is to enable the transition from subsistence to commercial farming.
“The difference that Apollo has made for me is that during the training I have learned to apply the right amount of fertilizer to improve the spacing and to topdress the crops,” says Apollo customer and farmer Augustine Kimeto. “When I compare the new crops, my maize now has two to three cobs a stem as compared to one cob before.”

Lend-to-learn
Apollo received a loan from Rabo Foundation in 2017, their first year of lending. According to co-founder and CEO, Eli Pollak, that loan was essential. “You need data to build a credit model as a start-up company, but we didn’t have any yet. So in 2017, we provided credit to all of the farmers who applied for it. That might have been unorthodox, but it was a way for us to ensure that our model is not trained against a biased data set. Rabo Foundation understood that and offered us a ‘lend to learn’ loan. Once we had collected the data we needed, Rabo Foundation offered us a working capital credit line to scale up. Now we’re growing fast, because Rabo Foundation stepped in at exactly the right moment.” In 2018, Apollo scaled their lending 5x, providing smallholder farmers in Kenya with financing and support. An assessment conducted with Apollo customers shares that: 9 out of 10 farmers surveyed experienced major increases in their yields in 2018, and 85 percent saw their standard of living improve. Eli adds, “Eventually, we aim for the farmers to become eligible for commercial financing.”

Through the use of new technology and data, small-scale maize (and also sorghum, potato, and bean) farmers have gained access to agricultural inputs on credit, and 

 significantly improved their yields and incomes.

Difficult to finance
Until recently, smallholder farmers were a difficult group to finance. The farmers live in remote, inaccessible areas, so manual approaches to serving this demographic are expensive and unprofitable, particularly given the small loan sizes that farmers seek. Moreover, farmers have little in the way of financial records, which makes financing more risky for standard banks. Despite wide consensus about what these farmers need to dramatically increase their production (high-quality inputs, advice, and insurance), the vast majority still can’t access these tools.

Apollo’s Approach 
Apollo Agriculture is working to overcome these challenges. Their innovation is twofold: first, they build credit profiles for unbanked smallholders using machine learning models that process large volumes of customer data, including satellite data of customers fields. Second, they have built automated operations that are designed to meet farmers’ unique needs in a more efficient, and cost-effective way. For instance, over the course of the season, Apollo customers receive guidance on farming techniques through highly engaging automated “IVR” phone calls. This IVR platform is one example of how Apollo’s digital approach allows them to communicate and engage with customers throughout the customer lifecycle in an informative and interactive way, regardless of literacy levels and remote locations.

Innovation is key to increasing global food production. In Kenya, fintech startup Apollo Agriculture has proven just how true that is.  


A digital education empowers
farmers in India

carefully selects AEs on their people skills and professionalism. Successful candidates are trained to use the tools designed to teach farmers growing methods, basic financial literacy, and how to get a fair price for their produce.

The tools are video-based, and the partners make sure the videos take each region’s cultural mores into account. Voice-overs are recorded in local languages, of which there are dozens spoken in the Indian subcontinent.

Rabo Foundation finances the toolkits and the educational materials for the farmers, while Syngenta Foundation trains the AEs. “Syngenta Foundation is a good fit for us,” says Albert Boogaard. “Like Rabo Foundation, it uses its mother company’s deep knowledge of the agricultural supply chain to help farmers. It is focused on results and has a long-term commitment to this program, so that we can measure how much impact it can really have.”

Stimulating on-farm investment
As well as passing on knowledge, the AEs gather data which is used to segment farmers and predict who might be insurable and creditworthy. The data is also used to see how to improve access to banking services for these smallholders so that they can invest in their farms. A pilot scheme, with Rabo Foundation facilitating crop insurance and small loans, is in the works. It is expected to be a stepping stone to local banks providing this service.

“The partnership with Rabo Foundation has helped us move to the next level,” says Baskar Reddy, Executive Director of Syngenta Foundation in India. “Apart from financial support to rural youth for procuring the digital toolkits, it is helping us in the design of credit scoring tools. The knowledge it brings in terms of segmentation of farmers and assessing credit worthiness is invaluable.” 

It is too early for meaningful results, but the program’s novel, tech-led approach has been well received by both the young professionals and the farmers. In its first year, 100 AEs were trained and they reached nearly 50,000 farmers. The partners are now planning to bring the program to Indonesia and Kenya, with more countries to follow.

Some Rabo Foundation innovation programs target smallholder farmers who are already doing relatively well – they have access to mobile phones, speak

English, and have some agricultural knowledge. But other farmers are more marginalized. They only speak the local language, haven’t been to school, and don’t have access to (mobile) phones or the internet. All this severely limits their means to gain up-to-date knowledge on topics ranging from farming best practices and market prices to financial literacy. Perhaps surprisingly, tech solutions can play a key role for them too.

A country of 1.3 billion
In 2018 Rabo Foundation launched a tech-led educational program targeting marginalized farmers in India in partnership with Syngenta Foundation. Its scope is ambitious: the partners are testing the concept across India (population 1.3 billion) to see how it performs in the country’s many different cultures and economic conditions.

The first question was how to reach these smallholders who usually farm just one or two hectares each. Not only are they offline, they tend to live in far-flung, isolated villages, making it prohibitively expensive to visit them. However, the program partners noted that produce buyers, farm input salesmen, and bank reps – usually young local people with a qualification in agriculture – were already traveling to many of the villages in their area.

The team decided to recruit these young professionals to deliver the educational program in addition to the services they were already providing. This helps keep program costs down while providing useful extra income for the young professionals, known as agricultural entrepreneurs (AEs). “What makes this program so interesting to us is creating a network of AEs in rural areas,” says Arindom Datta, Head of Sustainability Banking at Rabobank Asia. “It blends entrepreneurship with cooperative values, so it can respond to market trends.”

The value of a good education
It quickly became apparent that AE rapport with the smallholder communities is crucial to farmers being receptive to the tools. That’s why the team

“We want to help smallholders boost productivity and income, whatever their circumstances,” says Albert Boogaard, Rabo Foundation’s Head of Innovation. Here’s how even the most marginalized, unconnected farmers are benefiting from digital innovation.



Agri-revolution with
smartphones and data

“Our 80 credit agents can now serve even more smallholder farmers. Each of them can reach 250 members, and we hope that they’ll soon be able to
reach 350.”

Quick growing tips
Aldea agents continue to visit the smallholder farmers, especially the 30 percent who still don’t have a smartphone or Internet. “But we can dramatically reduce the number and duration of the visits”, says Armstrong. The association hopes that it can eventually digitize its advice as well. “For example with software that can provide quick growing tips based on someone’s GPS coordinates, their crops, and the available climate- and soil information about their location during a specific period.”

Intelligent use of data
“Collecting and analyzing data is crucial for our digital services”, Armstrong adds. “We’ve been collecting data for a while now, for example via the loan application visits and the tracking software for products. Now we have millions of pieces of data. What’s new is the intelligent analysis and use of the data.” Last year, a variety of experts taught Aldea how to do it – with some help from Rabo Foundation. “We’re getting more adept at it. And that’s good news for our members: data analysis is their key to a better future.”

Armstrong explains that Agri-ICT has been Aldea’s highest priority since the past year. “Our support is increasingly digital. From a special webshop for members, where 

they can order agricultural products like fertilizer, to the recent digitization of microcredit applications.”

Sturdy jeeps
Aldea Global is one of the few places in the country where farmers can apply for microcredit loans for an affordable interest rate. Armstrong: “Investigating their creditworthiness used to be a challenging and time-consuming process. Our 80 credit agents visited each applicant in person, which usually meant that they had to crawl up remote mountain trails in sturdy Jeeps.” That meant it took longer to process loan applications than Aldea would have liked. And with the increasing demand for loans, the credit agents would have to spend even more time on the road.

Special calculation model
“Together with Rabo Foundation, we were able to design and develop an innovative solution”, Armstrong says. “Now, we have every loan applicant fill in a brief questionnaire online using their smartphones. Based in part on the data they enter, we use a special calculation model to determine whether it’s prudent to grant them a loan.” With this digitization tool, Aldea can reach more members with the same manpower.

"We're constantly gaining new members; 12,000 at last count, half om whom are coffee farmers. They need timely and suistable microcredit loans and advice to improve and expand their production. Fortunately, thanks to ICT we can meet that growing demand." We hear from Warren Armstrong, General Director of Aldea Global, an association of smallholder farmers in Nicaragua.

More than 1/3 of the food they grow gets lost in the supply chain and less than 15% of the total credit requirement is met. Innovative solutions are required to address these challenges. Rabo Foundation believes that digital and data-driven solutions  can improve its impact and outreach through its partners and with that contribute to a solution for these challenges.

A changing environment
The environment of many smallholders is digitizing rapidly thanks to new technological developments, improved rural internet access and a growing (smart)phone penetration. Rabo Foundation believes that these technological developments can unlock opportunities for smallholder farmers.

For example, mobile phones allow farmers to open and manage savings accounts or obtain a loan from home instead of travelling many kilometres to a bank branch. And as satellite data can provide objective information about farming conditions in the area, insights can also be shared by (smart)phone to smallholder farmers that will help them to improve their harvests.

Combining expertise and  insights 
Since 1974 Rabo Foundation uses its financial resources, network and expertise to support smallholder farmers in developing countries to improve their income and productivity. The fund has built knowledge and experience on agricultural financing and the needs of smallholder farmers. To maximize its impact, Rabo Foundation combines this experience with the latest insights in data science and digitization. The fund can also benefit from Rabobank's expertise and experience in the areas of credit scoring, credit risk modelling and different ways to improve products and services for farmers with data driven insights.

Innovation-related products and services
Rabo Foundation supports new and existing partners by:

  • providing financial products to financial institutions and agtech/fintech companies that provide innovative (financial) solutions to smallholder farmers;
  • enabling and connecting Rabo Foundation’s and Rabobank’s network;
  • act as a knowledge partner in the development of data-driven financial solutions and data-driven technology for smallholder farmers.


To address the global food demand, smallholders will play an important role. To meet their full potential, multiple challenges need to be addressed. Farmers often produce as little as 20% of their potential.

In the spotlights 

Enabling Rabo Foundation partners

to respond to a changing world

The Agri-wallet, a digital payment system, helps African farmers increase their output.

Apollo Agriculture aims to boost agricultural productivity by combining satellite data, mobile phones and
digital banking.

Together with Rabobank's data specialists we developed a innovative credit model for Aldea Global to reach more farmers.

Four areas

Rabo Foundation supports solutions in four areas that make use of a combination of the following data sources:

1. Field information
Scalable solutions that will collect data at a farm household level (land size, dependents and location).

2. Supply chain data
Digitised supply chain data on farmer products (price, quality, quantity, time of delivery).

3. Remote sensing and geographical data
Scalable and cost effective remote sensing data based on a mix of technologies.

4. Fintech solutions
Fintech solutions and underlying infrastructure(wallets, payments).


3. Remote sensing and geographical data

Scalable and cost effective remote sensing data based on a mix of technologies.


4. Fintech solutions

Fintech solutions and underlying infrastructure(wallets, payments).

A “digital wallet”
is transforming
Kenyan farmers’ finances

During a trip through Africa, Ad Rietberg and Sijmen de Hoogh witnessed the inspiring impact of mobile payments. “People were telling us how smartphone payments had changed their lives,” 

The Agri-wallet, a digital payment system funded by loans from Rabo Foundation, was created to help African farmers increase their output. By keeping funds within the agricultural supply chain, the system creates “a secure form of microfinancing."

recalls Rietberg. “They had never had a bank account before; some had never even had an address.”

Their trip resulted in the Dodore Foundation, established in 2010. The Foundation’s first project helped poverty-stricken mothers in a disadvantaged Nairobi neighborhood by paying ten euros in ‘child benefit’ every month via mobile phones. “Where it was impossible to reach these people in the past, we can now help in just two seconds from behind our desk in Amsterdam,” says Rietberg.

Other parties started asking Dodore to develop mobile wallets for healthcare and education projects. Recipients are paid subsidies directly which, thanks to blockchain technology, are earmarked for a specific purpose and cannot be spent on other things.

The potential of bringing a mobile wallet to agriculture was so clear that Rietberg and De Hoogh decided to market Agri-wallet themselves. Rietberg explains the power of mobile money for improving food security and making global finance more inclusive.

What exactly is Agri-wallet?
It is a mobile purse that farmers with smallholdings can use to manage their business’s finances. Agri-wallet was not developed for donations – it is actually a kind of microbank that has a bank account, a savings account and a borrowing facility.

The Agri-wallet is currently being used by six thousand farmers in Kenya through the 25 cooperatives we work with. The cooperatives pay 10 percent of their farmers in blockchain tokens using Agri-wallet. The farmers can only spend these tokens in shops that sell agricultural products such as seeds and artificial fertilizer.

What problem does it solve?
Small farmers generally have insufficient funds to invest in high-quality seeds or fertilizer, which can result in poor harvests. They often have no access to financing and if they are able to borrow money, it is usually not spent on the farm. By investing in good seeds and fertilizer, farmers can increase their productivity by 300 percent. That’s a life-changer – they can work their way out of poverty and produce enough food for the entire community.

Farmers who have insufficient money to invest can use Agri-wallet to take out a loan, which is why we work with Rabo Foundation. Farmers can borrow up to a third of the expected crop yield in blockchain tokens. That means that the loan can only be spent on agricultural products. After harvesting, the loan is automatically repaid through the cooperative payments.

What developments do you have in store?
At the end of next year we expect fifty thousand Kenyan farmers to be using our wallet. Thanks to the positive results, NGOs are asking us to develop the Agri-wallet for other countries as well, such as Rwanda, Benin and Bangladesh. Our long-term aim is for our Agri-wallet to be used in ten to fifteen countries throughout Africa.

Africa currently has a population of one billion, which is set to double in thirty years’ time. If nothing changes, the future population will not have enough food to sustain itself. That will lead to unrest and mass migrations. There is also an environmental impact because unless farmers learn to increase the productivity of the soil in their current plots, they will revert to felling forests to create more agricultural land.

When it comes to agricultural productivity per hectare, the Netherlands is a world leader. We have the know-how, the financial means and a moral duty to help the African continent. Wouldn’t it be great if Agri-wallet could contribute to that?

MEER WETEN?

Contact
Is in jouw regio een sociale onderneming actief, op het gebied van arbeidstoeleiding voor mensen met een afstand tot de arbeidsmarkt, breng hem in contact met Rabo Foundation. Neem hiervoor contact op met Nanouk Grootendorst of Nynke Struik
.

Uitdagende baan voor werklozen in Nederland

Praktijkvoorbeelden
Targeted financing 
through innovative 
technology 

Through the use of new technology and data, small-scale maize (and also sorghum, potato, and bean) farmers have gained access to agricultural inputs on credit, and significantly

Innovation is key to increasing global food production. In Kenya, fintech startup Apollo Agriculture has proven just how true that is.  

significantly improved their yields and incomes.

Difficult to finance
Until recently, smallholder farmers were a difficult group to finance. The farmers live in remote, inaccessible areas, so manual approaches to serving this demographic are expensive and unprofitable, particularly given the small loan sizes that farmers seek. Moreover, farmers have little in the way of financial records, which makes financing more risky for standard banks. Despite wide consensus about what these farmers need to dramatically increase their production (high-quality inputs, advice, and insurance), the vast majority still can’t access these tools.

Apollo’s Approach 
Apollo Agriculture is working to overcome these challenges. Their innovation is twofold: first, they build credit profiles for unbanked smallholders using machine learning models that process large volumes of customer data, including satellite data of customers fields. Second, they have built automated operations that are designed to meet farmers’ unique needs in a more efficient, and cost-effective way. For instance, over the course of the season, Apollo customers receive guidance on farming techniques through highly engaging automated “IVR” phone calls. This IVR platform is one example of how Apollo’s digital approach allows them to communicate and engage with customers throughout the customer lifecycle in an informative and interactive way, regardless of literacy levels and remote locations.

Apollo’s goal is to enable the transition from subsistence to commercial farming.
“The difference that Apollo has made for me is that during the training I have learned to apply the right amount of fertilizer to improve the spacing and to topdress the crops,” says Apollo customer and farmer Augustine Kimeto. “When I compare the new crops, my maize now has two to three cobs a stem as compared to one cob before.”

Lend-to-learn
Apollo received a loan from Rabo Foundation in 2017, their first year of lending. According to co-founder and CEO, Eli Pollak, that loan was essential. “You need data to build a credit model as a start-up company, but we didn’t have any yet. So in 2017, we provided credit to all of the farmers who applied for it. That might have been unorthodox, but it was a way for us to ensure that our model is not trained against a biased data set. Rabo Foundation understood that and offered us a ‘lend to learn’ loan. Once we had collected the data we needed, Rabo Foundation offered us a working capital credit line to scale up. Now we’re growing fast, because Rabo Foundation stepped in at exactly the right moment.” In 2018, Apollo scaled their lending 5x, providing smallholder farmers in Kenya with financing and support. An assessment conducted with Apollo customers shares that: 9 out of 10 farmers surveyed experienced major increases in their yields in 2018, and 85 percent saw their standard of living improve. Eli adds, “Eventually, we aim for the farmers to become eligible for commercial financing.”

MEER WETEN?

Contact
Is in jouw regio een sociale onderneming actief, op het gebied van arbeidstoeleiding voor mensen met een afstand tot de arbeidsmarkt, breng hem in contact met Rabo Foundation. Neem hiervoor contact op met Nanouk Grootendorst of Nynke Struik
.

Uitdagende baan voor werklozen in Nederland

Praktijkvoorbeelden
A digital education
empowers
farmers in India

Some Rabo Foundation innovation programs target smallholder farmers who are already doing relatively well – they have access to mobile phones,

“We want to help smallholders boost productivity and income, whatever their circumstances,” says Albert Boogaard, Rabo Foundation’s Head of Innovation. Here’s how even the most marginalized, unconnected farmers are benefiting from digital innovation.

speak English, and have some agricultural knowledge. But other farmers are more marginalized. They only speak the local language, haven’t been to school, and don’t have access to (mobile) phones or the internet. All this severely limits their means to gain up-to-date knowledge on topics ranging from farming best practices and market prices to financial literacy. Perhaps surprisingly, tech solutions can play a key role for them too.

A country of 1.3 billion
In 2018 Rabo Foundation launched a tech-led educational program targeting marginalized farmers in India in partnership with Syngenta Foundation. Its scope is ambitious: the partners are testing the concept across India (population 1.3 billion) to see how it performs in the country’s many different cultures and economic conditions.

The first question was how to reach these smallholders who usually farm just one or two hectares each. Not only are they offline, they tend to live in far-flung, isolated villages, making it prohibitively expensive to visit them. However, the program partners noted that produce buyers, farm input salesmen, and bank reps – usually young local people with a qualification in agriculture – were already traveling to many of the villages in their area.

The team decided to recruit these young professionals to deliver the educational program in addition to the services they were already providing. This helps keep program costs down while providing useful extra income for the young professionals, known as agricultural entrepreneurs (AEs). “What makes this program so interesting to us is creating a network of AEs in rural areas,” says Arindom Datta, Head of Sustainability Banking at Rabobank Asia. “It blends entrepreneurship with cooperative values, so it can respond to market trends.”

The value of a good education
It quickly became apparent that AE rapport with the smallholder communities is crucial to farmers being receptive to the tools. That’s why the team carefully selects AEs on their people skills and professionalism. Successful candidates are trained to use the tools designed to teach farmers growing methods, basic financial literacy, and how to get a fair price for their produce.

The tools are video-based, and the partners make sure the videos take each region’s cultural mores into account. Voice-overs are recorded in local languages, of which there are dozens spoken in the Indian subcontinent.

Rabo Foundation finances the toolkits and the educational materials for the farmers, while Syngenta Foundation trains the AEs. “Syngenta Foundation is a good fit for us,” says Albert Boogaard. “Like Rabo Foundation, it uses its mother company’s deep knowledge of the agricultural supply chain to help farmers. It is focused on results and has a long-term commitment to this program, so that we can measure how much impact it can really have.”

Stimulating on-farm investment
As well as passing on knowledge, the AEs gather data which is used to segment farmers and predict who might be insurable and creditworthy. The data is also used to see how to improve access to banking services for these smallholders so that they can invest in their farms. A pilot scheme, with Rabo Foundation facilitating crop insurance and small loans, is in the works. It is expected to be a stepping stone to local banks providing this service.

“The partnership with Rabo Foundation has helped us move to the next level,” says Baskar Reddy, Executive Director of Syngenta Foundation in India. “Apart from financial support to rural youth for procuring the digital toolkits, it is helping us in the design of credit scoring tools. The knowledge it brings in terms of segmentation of farmers and assessing credit worthiness is invaluable.” 

It is too early for meaningful results, but the program’s novel, tech-led approach has been well received by both the young professionals and the farmers. In its first year, 100 AEs were trained and they reached nearly 50,000 farmers. The partners are now planning to bring the program to Indonesia and Kenya, with more countries to follow.


Werken aan de toekomst

Financieringsvormen
Rabo Foundation verstrekt met name (zachte) leningen en donaties. Bij de beoordeling van ondernemingen kijken we naar de beoogde impact, het marktrisico, het managementrisico en het financiële risico van de onderneming.

Lening tegen gunstige voorwaarden

  • Minimale omvang 40.000 euro, maximale omvang 250.000 euro
  • Looptijd: 1-7 jaar
  • Rente: 0-4%
  • Geen zekerheden

Vaste voorwaarden: o.a. sociale doelstelling verankerd in statuten, scheiding van uitvoerend en toezichthoudend orgaan, er wordt een impactmeting gedaan en een voortgangs- en eindrapportage opgeleverd/ no change of management & ownership/ non- dividend/ no further debt/ maximering totale management fee gedurende de looptijd van de lening.

Vaste voorwaarden: o.a. sociale doelstelling verankerd in statuten, er is scheiding van uitvoerend en toezichthoudend orgaan, er wordt een impactmeting gedaan en een voortgangs- en eindrapportage opgeleverd.

Donatie

  • Minimale omvang 30.000 euro
  • Looptijd minimaal 1 jaar

Toegang tot kennis 
Rabo Foundation is als partner betrokken bij de ontwikkeling van drie leergangen. Sociaal ondernemers kunnen hun ondernemers-vaardigheden versterken via:

Toegang tot netwerk 
Rabo Foundation beschikt over een netwerk van ervaren ondernemers, coaches en andere financiers. Afhankelijk van de behoefte brengen we een sociaal ondernemer in contact met een coach voor tijdelijke ondersteuning of bijvoorbeeld een lokale bank als er behoefte is aan bijvoorbeeld lease of een rekening courant. Rabo Foundation is ook aangesloten bij verschillende samenwerkingsverbanden waarbij impactfinanciers en (private equity)fondsen maatschappelijke en duurzame ondernemers helpen met hun financiering.

MEER WETEN?

Contact
Is in jouw regio een sociale onderneming actief, op het gebied van arbeidstoeleiding voor mensen met een afstand tot de arbeidsmarkt, breng hem in contact met Rabo Foundation. Neem hiervoor contact op met Nanouk Grootendorst of Nynke Struik
.

Uitdagende baan voor werklozen in Nederland

Praktijkvoorbeelden
Agri-revolution with
smartphones
and data

Armstrong explains that Agri-ICT has been Aldea’s highest priority since the past year. “Our support is increasingly digital. From a special webshop for members, where 

"We're constantly gaining new members; 12,000 at last count, half om whom are coffee farmers. They need timely and suistable microcredit loans and advice to improve and expand their production. Fortunately, thanks to ICT we can meet that growing demand." We hear from Warren Armstrong, General Director of Aldea Global, an association of smallholder farmers in Nicaragua.

they can order agricultural products like fertilizer, to the recent digitization of microcredit applications.”

Sturdy jeeps
Aldea Global is one of the few places in the country where farmers can apply for microcredit loans for an affordable interest rate. Armstrong: “Investigating their creditworthiness used to be a challenging and time-consuming process. Our 80 credit agents visited each applicant in person, which usually meant that they had to crawl up remote mountain trails in sturdy Jeeps.” That meant it took longer to process loan applications than Aldea would have liked. And with the increasing demand for loans, the credit agents would have to spend even more time on the road.

Special calculation model
“Together with Rabo Foundation, we were able to design and develop an innovative solution”, Armstrong says. “Now, we have every loan applicant fill in a brief questionnaire online using their smartphones. Based in part on the data they enter, we use a special calculation model to determine whether it’s prudent to grant them a loan.” With this digitization tool, Aldea can reach more members with the same manpower.  “Our 80 credit agents can now serve even more smallholder farmers. Each of them can reach 250 members, and we hope that they’ll soon be able to reach 350.”

Quick growing tips
Aldea agents continue to visit the smallholder farmers, especially the 30 percent who still don’t have a smartphone or Internet. “But we can dramatically reduce the number and duration of the visits”, says Armstrong. The association hopes that it can eventually digitize its advice as well. “For example with software that can provide quick growing tips based on someone’s GPS coordinates, their crops, and the available climate- and soil information about their location during a specific period.”

Intelligent use of data
“Collecting and analyzing data is crucial for our digital services”, Armstrong adds. “We’ve been collecting data for a while now, for example via the loan application visits and the tracking software for products. Now we have millions of pieces of data. What’s new is the intelligent analysis and use of the data.” Last year, a variety of experts taught Aldea how to do it – with some help from Rabo Foundation. “We’re getting more adept at it. And that’s good news for our members: data analysis is their key to a better future.”