Financial inclusion is central to our model at addressing the economic empowerment of women, youth and rural farming communities. Caught in a cycle of poverty, they are invisible to the formal financial system and face extreme barriers to entry to access capital to invest in the farming season and create a profitable livelihood.
Our solution lies within the existing wisdom of communities who for years have used savings and loans groups to redistribute cash to members for their needs.
Our programs focus on leveraging the social capital of women and youth led savings groups through access to financial tools that establish their creditworthiness and expand their financial infrastructure. Intricate to this is our Shared Action Fund that provides matching grants and seed funding to the savings and loan groups and members for their enterprises. It is through savings groups, not predatory lenders, members can invest in land, farming inputs and agriculture including maize, coffee and beans and grow their incomes and afford to take their children to school as well. A second key element of our model includes job creation and workforce development for young adults.
Our model is delivered through the launch of a 3 Month Training Program followed by yearlong mentoring and support by our Field Officers.
We provide financial literacy education to the rural women and young people to become active users of financial services and increase their investments in both agriculture an and other income generating activities.
The financial literacy training and mentoring is aimed at improving the financial capability of the rural women and youth to manage their personal and household finances as well as use formal financial services responsibly to avoid the risk of over-indebtedness.
Our financial education materials have been customized to deliver content on saving, financial planning and management, budgeting, debt management and record keeping, and use innovative ways such as video to deliver content to trainees, the majority who are unable to read. Video messaging is also used because it communicates a uniform message to the savings groups
After receiving financial literacy training, the rural women and youth are trained and mentored to become agro-entrepreneurs and manage profitable agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises.
In this stage, we have two participant groups we focus on:
mentoring existing farmers to strengthen their business operations and create viable enterprises;
youth workforce development and entrepreneurship program that trains young adults to develop enterprises that serve farmers by building out the infrastructure of value added services, technical support and financial and business development services across the agricultural value chains;
Besides financial services, farmers need additional farm services including extension, plowing, harvesting, processing, transport, warehousing and marketing services to increase productivity, profitability and income. To address the high rate of unemployment amongst youth and lack of interest in farming, we are training youth to become innovative agro-entrepreneurs to develop their skills and opportunities for advancement by providing services to other actors in the value chain. Our young adult entrepreneurs are developing enterprises to meet the need of these specialized and demand driven services such as systematic pruning of coffee and distribution.
The entrepreneurs are guided to: identify gaps and needs, develop a business plan, connect to support networks, and be competent in their financial and operations management.
To equip them with the right tools, and transportation to do the job, they will be supported to form youth savings groups and write andbusubmit business proposals to access capital. start up costs of infrastructure and equipment to easily launch their business and create jobs.
Our team of young entrepreneurs are trained to become skilled agricultural workers that provide on farm technical services to complement the financial and business management skills training and mentorship they provide to the rural women and youth.
The young entrepreneurs are also trained and supported with seed capital from the Shared Action Fund to utilize business opportunities that exist along the agricultural value chain, and provide specialized and demand driven services such as systematic pruning of coffee and integrated pest management.
As part of the training, the women and youth are supported to a develop plan that is funded through the Shared Action Fund.
Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
Protection of natural resources is of utmost important to our work because of our rural focus and our target groups who are dependent on agriculture for survival. There is no denying the linkages that exist between natural resource management and climate change adaptation with poverty alleviation, promoting food security, health, education, gender equality and youth empowerment.
Droughts and flooding, intensified by climate change, can lead to famine and loss or contamination of water supplies. Deforestation due to population pressures and chemical farming can accelerate land degradation, increasing the vulnerability of the poorest communities.
That’s why throughout our training programs and services we ensure ecological principles guide our work, where we introduce participants to various environmental practices to integrate into their business models, farming practices and home life. Farmers are introduced to a network of trainers, other farmers and suppliers of organic compost to solar technologies they can begin to work with and create a network of partners scaling green practices.
Our training highlights:
Green Business models
Regenerative Agriculture farming techniques
Natural farming inputs and materials
Low cost technologies for water and energy
Our Green Business Development training supports individuals to access green houses, compost, organic pesticides, low cost irrigation technologies, water harvesting tanks, renewable energy and solar technologies, and seeds through the Shared Action Fund.
Partnering with Mobile Financial Services Providers, we leverage digital financial products and delivery systems to improve access to financial and non-financial services for rural women and youth such as savings, school fees and inputs payment, and insurance. Access to credit for clean energy, agriculture, school fees, labor and inputs is provided by Shared Action Fund, a social enterprise co-founded by Shared Action Africa.
At Shared Action Fund, we provide loan products that are tailored to women and youth preferences and constraints to make it easier for them to gain access to credit. We partner with Mobile Financial Service Providers and use technological innovations such as the online bulk payment platform to make loan disbursements to our clients who in turn remit loan amortization off their mobile money wallets to a predetermined collections account at affordable rates. This reduces the need for women and youth to travel long distances to access financial services. The same platform profiles the savings groups to provide relevant financial information which forms a basis for future interactions with financial services providers, including Shared Action Fund. The partnership with Mobile Financial Services Providers enables our clients to access other services (financial and non-financial) that include E-savings, bill payments, school fees payments, agricultural inputs, micro insurance, solar kits and discounted call rates all at the tip of their fingers.
Once documented and a credit history created for the SLGs, we will use the same information to link the SLFs with other agricultural value chain actors. These will include input suppliers, processors and buyers that are willing to advance money to farmers based on their credit history. SAG will indentify credible value chain actors and facilitate business to business meetings between the members of the SLGs.
The Shared Action Fund is a Financial Institution started by Shared Action Africa using private capital to bridge the rural financing gap by providing two types of financing; 1) Matching Grant and 2) Green Loans
a) Matching Grant
The matching grant making facility that was created by Shared Action Africa to incentive the savings groups to also save for investment as opposed to only saving for consumption. The practice among the majority of savings groups is to redistribute or ‘share out’ all the finances pooled annually to purchase a few consumables. Hence, the Matching Grant Facility was set up to provide matching grants to savings groups that accumulate capital towards a group investment or group income generating activity at a 1:1 match. The matching grants are used to purchase agricultural value addition equipment or invested in any income generating project that benefits the entire savings group.
2) Green Loans
The Credit facility was set up to provide affordable and tailored financial services and products that create value for the rural poor. Using the credit facility, the Shared Action Fund also provides climate related financing by developing and distributing green loan products that address the impacts of climate change and come in two varieties. 1) Adaptation loans that offer financing and technical assistance for clients who want to invest to be more resilient in the face of expected climate impacts. These loans go toward drought resistant seeds, livelihood diversification, and water conservation and storage technologies. 2) Mitigation loans target emissions-reducing investments, like improved cook stoves, solar powered equipment and construction of bio digesters. To support farmers to utilize the above green financial products, the Shared Action Fund provides technical assistance to them on how to purchase, install and profit from green investment.
WE strengthen the social capital nurtured in the savings groups by supporting them to form larger networks or savings and credit cooperatives by aggregating their resources to accumulate capital for impactful investments.
The newly formed savings groups networks and or savings and credit cooperatives are helped to develop governance structures for transparency and accountability to members.
The new and bigger are also supported to develop sound business systems and a business plan before they can qualify for matching grant from the Shared Action Fund that is invested in either a value addition equipment or in an income generating project that.