Lydia Baffour Awuah
Agricultural finance that reaches people facing poverty, gender, and age barriers
A high-tech, high-touch, high-impact (H3) approach to agricultural finance enables expansion of financial service markets to people facing poverty, gender, and age barriers to economic empowerment. This article explains the H3 approach and presents the case of Opportunity International’s Agricultural Finance Programme (AgFinance) in Africa. At the centre of the model are community-based farm advisors, providing high-touch/high-tech training in financial management, good agricultural practices, inclusion, and resilience. They also link farmers to financial service providers, input and equipment suppliers, and markets. In Malawi, where Opportunity has applied this model, outreach was high: 72 per cent of clients were living in extreme poverty, 57 per cent were women and 40 per cent youth. In 2021, the AgFinance programme facilitated loans to 68,262 borrowers with an outstanding balance of US$24.82 m. This outreach and scale demonstrates a market systems model – the H3 approach – with deep outreach at scale.