The Business Case for Digitally-Enabled Smallholder Finance

The role of digital approaches in making it possible to serve smallholder farmers at scale

This brief looks at where and how innovations in digital technology promise to enable financial service providers (FSPs) to serve smallholders at scale. Its goal is to equip practitioners — including providers of financial services, technical assistance and capital, and business-to-business (B2B) digital service providers (DSPs) — with insights for designing and scaling credit solutions for smallholders, by (1) increasing transparency concerning the viability of digitally-enabled models for financing smallholders and (2) laying the groundwork for further research and data-gathering from FSPs that are using digital technology.

This brief is the first in the Learning Brief series. It draws on a new survey of 23 selected FSPs in Africa who have begun their "digital journey," as well as extensive desk research and interviews with a cross-section of digital smallholder finance sector donors, implementers, and entrepreneurs.  It explores how FSPs are digitalizing their lending operations and early indications of the value they see, touches briefly on the customer perspective of these digital approaches, and then analyzes the challenges to going digital, providing recommendations for advancing digitalization in the sector.

Learning Brief 2: Better Together: Last Mile Partnerships for Smallholder Finance
Learning Brief 3: Business Model Sustainability - Promising Pathways and Opportunities for Research: Understanding Profitability in Smallholder Finance
Learning Brief 4: How To Influence Decision Makers in Agricultural Finance
Learning Brief 5: Big Data Could Mean Big Opportunity: Why We Should Stay Excited for Data Analytics in Smallholder Finance