April 2016
From the editor

Dear RFILC followers,

In XXI century technology and telecommunication systems are advancing at the fast rate all over the World. There have been an increase interest in penetration to the rural areas in order to make financial services more accessible to smallholder households. However, the barriers to offering digital financial services to farmers in rural areas are still significant. Therefore, we would like to bring to your attention the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) publication Digital Financial Services for Smallholder Households toolkit . This toolkits comes in three parts: Teaser that sets out the scope; How to Do Note and Lessons Learned. The purpose of the How To Do Note is to provide guidance to country programme managers (CPMs) and partners on the design and implementation of digital financial services (DFS) that target smallholder households. The proposed guidelines intend to foster a culture of innovation that leverages new and emerging technologies to address smallholder-specific financial needs, while offering sufficient safeguards for farmers and their families. The purpose of the Lessons Learned Note is to synthesize the innovations and development of DFS, focusing on how the services are meeting the financial needs of smallholder households. The authors offer examples of smallholder-specific DFSs as well as mainstream ones, highlighting the implications in each case for smallholder farmers and their households. The lessons learned discussed in this note complement the guidance on design and implementation presented in the How To Do.

Second highlight is Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab study report Inflection Point: Unlocking growth in the era of farmer finance that captures the way the smallholder finance space currently operates. The study describes the key actors and the nature of their interactions, and by conceptualizing these in a new “industry model;” identifies market frictions across the major components of the “industry model” that continue to inhibit smallholder farmers’ access to financial services, and opportunities for removing them; and rallies sector actors around the need for more collective action than ever before. The study presents a more sophisticated picture of the smallholder finance sector today and explores opportunities around a potential inflection point in the era of farmer finance.

Finally, we would like to inform you that the 2nd annual Boulder Rural and Agricultural Finance Program will take place in Turin, Italy from July 18th to August 5th, 2016. Three weeks immersion program is offered in English during which 12 courses will be delivered by eminent faculty. The rational of the program is to create the space for participants to deeply reflect on their specific challenges, and share ideas and strategies on how to face the agricultural finance sector’s pressing issues, using new tools and a fresh perspective. For more information, click here.

With best regards,

The RFILC editorial team

We hope you enjoy your visit to the RFILC.


The Rural Finance and Investment Learning Centre is a part of the CABFIN Partnership Project which aims to promote and facilitate capacity building in rural finance. The concerns of rural finance are to ensure that people living in rural areas have access to financial services such as deposit and money transfer facilities, insurance and loan products. Effective use of these services can help to improve livelihoods and reduce rural poverty. The following CABFIN Partners have provided financial support to the RFILC: