Building on our 2012 and 2016 “State of the Sector” reports — Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance and Inflection Point: Unlocking growth in the era of farmer finance — in early 2019, ISF Advisors and Mastercard Foundation Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab (The Learning Lab) kicked off a new global research effort to develop this latest report, Pathways to Prosperity.

Acknowledging the catalytic role that previous State of the Sector reports have played in rallying stakeholders around common goals and concerted action, this report involved a collaborative effort between the research team and key industry stakeholders from the very beginning. Throughout the scoping and research process the team engaged an “Advisory Committee” to align on the objectives and approach, validate findings and test key hypotheses. The Advisory Committee included representatives from Aceli Africa, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Chemonics, IFAD, Mastercard Foundation, One Acre Fund, Opportunity International, Small Foundation, Syngenta Foundation and USAID Feed the Future. The core research process was also supported by Dalberg Advisors and Nathan Associates.

This report took a data-led, holistic industry approach to break down the complexity of clients, providers, and capital markets, using innovative frameworks and a common language to guide stakeholder decision making and support greater sector alignment and coordination. It is important to note that, while the analysis and concepts laid out in this report draw from a variety of sources – including literature review, specialized database and stakeholder interviews – they are, above all, the result of a joint effort to break down, refine, and synthesize the collective experience, research, and wisdom of the Advisory Committee, ISF Advisors, and The Learning Lab—who together have decades of experience in rural and agricultural finance.

Geographical Scope

As in our previous State of the Sector Report, Inflection Point, China, Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa were excluded from analysis throughout this report. This is primarily due to data availability, the unique conditions of smallholders in China, and recognition that donor interest in agricultural development in these regions has historically been relatively low.



For additional details and assumption tables please refer to the full report.

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