A-Card Preliminary Assessment Report
Publication Date: 01/12/2017
For smallholder farmers (SHFs) with limited savings and assets, agricultural spending is largely facilitated through two credit models, the micro-finance and bank models. The banking system while enabling access to credit at low interest rates of 9-10% average, has failed to reach 80% of SHFs; as SHFs lack collateral and have limited understanding of various procedural complexities. Micro-credit Programs (MCPs) due to high interest rates of between 25-31%, smaller loan sizes and inflexible and short repayment periods have also failed to address needs of SHFs. Furthermore, since both formal (bank) and informal (MCP) credit is extensively cash-based, there is a tendency for its use in nonfarming activities, negatively impacting agricultural productivity and profitability.
To address these challenges, A-Card was designed to digitalize and re-engineer Micro-Finance to enable formal financial Inclusion of smallholder farmers (SHFs). A-Card model was designed by Mr. Bidyuth Mahalder, Chief of Party of the AESA Project and USAID reserves its IP rights. It was piloted in three USAID’s Feed the Future districts of Bangladesh by three implementing partners-Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Care and mPower. A-Card is a debit card specially designed for SHFs, which facilitates financial access to credit for digital purchase of farm inputs at low interest rate (10%), no collateral requirement and flexible payback period (6 month tenure).
This evaluation was conducted in October-November 2017 on A-Card holders who took and repaid their loans before May 2017 in order to assess the product’s impact on productivity and profitability. The evaluation also involved one to one interviews with 200 SHFs, key informant interviews with 5 input retailers and 2 MFI agents who were all part of A-Card to assess the overall impact beyond productivity and profitability and recommendations for A-Card.