MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: The MasterCard Foundation, Root Capital to Invest $5.2m in Early-Stage Agricultural Businesses in West Africa

Root Capital, a US-based nonprofit investment fund, and The MasterCard Foundation, a Canadian organization founded by the US-based payments firm MasterCard Worldwide, recently announced a partnership aimed at raising incomes for 300,000 smallholder farmers in West Africa. The foundation will provide USD 5.2 million over the course of five years to Root Capital for the support of early-stage agricultural businesses in rural communities in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal.

The program components are: (i) investing in approximately 100 agricultural businesses with capital needs under USD 150,000 and/or annual revenues under USD 300,000; (ii) offering advice on a pilot basis on topics including “financial literacy training for smallholder farmers”; mobile money; and “empowering local microfinance institutions to better serve the agricultural sector”; and (iii) “developing a framework for documenting and analyzing the costs and impacts associated with early business growth in the agricultural sector.”

Ann Miles, the Director of Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation, said, “With Root Capital we will help to bring much-needed financing and capacity building to businesses in West Africa that work with farmers otherwise excluded from the formal economy. We see this as a good avenue to help increase incomes and opportunities for 4,000 employees of agricultural businesses, 300,000 smallholder farmers, and over 2 million farm family members.”

Diaka Sall, Root Capital’s General Manager for West Africa, said, “With the support of The MasterCard Foundation, Root Capital will be able to increasingly target earlier-stage businesses in West Africa that operate on the fringes of financial inclusion – businesses that demonstrate potential to grow and generate increased impact.”

As of 2015, Root Capital reported total assets of USD 135 million and loan balance of USD 107 million outstanding to 586 agricultural businesses. As of 2015, The MasterCard Foundation reported approximately USD 9 billion in assets.

By Kevin van den Brink, Research Associate

About Root Capital

Root Capital is a US-based nonprofit social investment fund that was founded in 1999. It provides capital, financial education and market connections to small businesses in 30 countries in Latin America and Africa. As of 2015, Root Capital reported total assets of USD 135 million and loan balance of USD 107 million outstanding to 586 agricultural businesses.

About The MasterCard Foundation

Based in Canada, The MasterCard Foundation seeks to enable people living in poverty to improve their lives with increased access to microfinance and education, primarily in Africa. The foundation was established in 2006 by a gift of shares from US-based payment processor MasterCard Worldwide during the company’s initial public offering. As of 2015, The MasterCard Foundation reported assets totaling approximately USD 9 billion.

Sources and Additional Resources

[1] Africa Newsroom, News, “Root Capital and the Mastercard Foundation to Increase Incomes for 300000 Farmers in West Africa

MicroCapital Universe Profile: Root Capital
MicroCapital Universe Profile: The MasterCard Foundation

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