This blog post is brought to you as part of MasterCard’s participation in ACCION’s Center for Financial Inclusion’s FI2020 Week. Help us build momentum around addressing the most significant gaps in financial inclusion by sharing your story across social via #FI2020.
The MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, Kenya held its first LaunchPad event from October 5-9. The collaborative innovation program brought together a team of developers, designers and business stakeholders in a challenge to create an agricultural solution for smallholder farmers. The team was tasked to come up with a concept, build a prototype and present a go-to-market strategy – all within a five-day innovation sprint.
The event kicked-off with an ideation process that engaged Labs developers and designers with partners across East Africa to identify the critical agricultural challenges currently faced by smallholder farmers. According to the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, an estimated five out of about eight million Kenyan households depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, changes in climate and the economy have affected these farmers, who cultivate a relatively small plot of land with low output and are generally less well-resourced than commercial farmers. Ensuring financial inclusion for this population is important to help them to sustain their farms and enhance their livelihoods.
As part of the challenge, Labs invited partners including AGRA (Kenya), Cafedirect Producers Foundation (East Africa), Yetu Microfinance (Tanzania), ACORD International (Tanzania) and Mt. Meru Millers (Tanzania) to identify the problems and innovation opportunities to help solve these problems. Each of these partners, who have been critical players in the value chain of agriculture, helped to narrow down the focus to three opportunity areas: client registration and aggregation, transactions and multiple channels of payments, and how to use transaction information to facilitate access to microfinance credit and help farmers run a more profitable business.
The team’s work through the Labs LaunchPad process culminated into a live presentation at a Research Summit hosted by Labs. Held at the Intercontinental Nairobi, the Summit drew more 100 cross-sector partners from NGOs, banks, companies, bilateral and multilateral institutions, universities, research organizations and government led entities for roundtable discussions on financial inclusion opportunities and challenges in East Africa. The event elicited so much excitement from partners that many sought to partner with MasterCard Labs to extend reach and generate more program solutions.
Stay tuned for the next update on this exciting project as Labs strive to make a difference in the world.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion (MCLFI) was established earlier this year with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create and scale financial inclusion tools and expand access to these tools globally leveraging the proven innovation process of MasterCard Labs.