A-Card Progress and Prospects

A-card (A stands for Agriculture) is a brand new micro-credit mechanism, the only example in Bangladesh aimed at providing smallholder farmers financing to a digital purchase of farm inputs at a low cost (10%) through the formal financial system linked to a debit card and ICT-enabled platforms.

Addressing the problem of smallholder farmers' lack of access to finance required a consultation among different stakeholders particularly in finding an effective solution. It eventually led to the idea and design of the A-card model. In this regard, the USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (AESA) project's interventions effectively engaged with different stakeholders, including small-holder farmers, microfinance institutions (MFIs), formal lenders (i.e. banks) and rural agricultural inputs retailers. The aim of this collaboration was to work for a common goal with differentiated responsibilities. [14 pages] Read More...

A-Card Pilot Initiative Impact Assessment

mSTAR/Bangladesh, working with the Agriculture Extension Support Activity (AESA) led by Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), conducted pre- and postassessments in Faridpur district to understand the impact that a micro-credit product (called A-Card) delivered to smallholder farmers through Bank Asia’s agent banking had on participating farmers, associated ag-input retailers, and other relevant stakeholders, as well as to understand what further action can be taken to improve uptake of these services.
This report includes findings from the pre- and post-assessment surveys, beginning with farmers and retailers’ demographic information, including age, sex and education; as well as their mobile phone ownership, access and usage patterns. It also examines the knowledge and perceptions that stakeholders have of digital financial services (DFS), in addition to their perceived benefits from A-Card, associated challenges, and opportunities to scale up. In addition, this report includes some findings from a separate survey conducted solely by AESA. It concludes with recommendations based on the findings and feedback from stakeholders. [28 pages] Read More...

Mid-term Evaluation: MicroLead Expansion Programme

In September 2011, UNCDF, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation (MCF) launched a six-year expansion of the MicroLead programme that aimed to increase access to savings driven microfinance to a minimum 450,000 low income individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), half of whom are women and half of whom reside in rural areas. The programme’s intention was to attract experienced institutions or networks from developed and developing countries to increase the capacity of financial institutions providing low balance savings either through the provision of technical assistance to financial service providers (FSPs) or through the establishment of greenfield institutions. MLE also has a strong focus on harnessing the potential of technology driven alternate delivery channels (ADCs) and financial education in broadening outreach to financial services. Read More...

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