Building an inclusive ecosystem for finance and investment in rural areas
The Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN) is an inclusive partnership of actors operating in different parts of the ecosystem for agri-food and rural small and medium enterprise (SME) investment, with a focus on access to finance and complementary services.
The network is currently facilitated by a team housed in the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It comprises about fifty institutions from the private, public and philanthropic sectors, including governments, different types of finance providers and financial intermediaries, development banks, and farmers' organizations.
SAFIN partners recognise that smallholder farmers and rural SMEs are key investors in inclusive and sustainable rural economies and food systems. They understand the many challenges and gaps in the ecosystem around such investments, and share an interest in joining forces to address these.
Inclusive and sustainable rural transformation is critical for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda, particularly ending hunger and malnutrition and promoting sustainable food systems. In many contexts, rural and agri-food SMEs are the backbone of rural economies and local and national agri-food systems. The capacity of these enterprises to invest more effectively, profitably, and sustainably is critical for the kind of transformations that the 2030 Agenda requires.
Closing the investment gap for agri-food and rural SMEs requires a concerted, multi-stakeholder effort to transform the ecosystem. The same is needed to close the gap between demand and supply for finance and complementary services in the ecosystem, as a critical part of the solution to the investment gap.
The SAFIN network provides partners with a pre-competitive space to align their efforts and to scale up and multiply their positive impact. It does this through activities and tools for shared learning, peer support, frank and open dialogue, and the identification of opportunities for coordinated action.
In particular, the network focuses on five areas of work:
- Coordinated engagement on selected policy issues.
- Learning and dialogue to mobilise and better combine different sources and types of finance.
- Pursuing opportunities for collaboration on the ground through inclusive business models.
- Pooling knowledge around specific challenges requiring innovation or scaling up of successes.
- Identifying and responding to strategic knowledge gaps to build an inclusive ecosystem in agri-SME finance