If you can increase income levels of smallholder farmers, here’s $50,000 in seed funding

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Village Capital, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and Duncan Goldie-Scot, today announced the launch of its accelerator program, Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture: East Africa 2015. The program will select 12  start-up firms for business development training. The aim is to unlock innovations that  increase access to financial services for smallholder farmers. At the end of the program, the two start-ups ranked highest by other entrepreneurs in the program will each receive  $50,000 USD to help scale their businesses and impact.

The initial 12 enterprises will be chosen on the basis of how their ideas can increase  incomes for smallholder farmers by improving their access to financial services.  Typically, smallholder farmers in East Africa cannot participate in the mainstream economy because they lack access to financial services as a result of their location, their  lack of financial literacy, and other barriers. Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture:  East Africa 2015 plans to meet this need by supporting the best local early-stage  ventures increasing financial inclusion in the East African agriculture industry,  benefitting smallholder farmers, investors, communities, and entrepreneurs in the region.

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Village Capital will provide selected ventures with intensive business development  training, mentorship from local business leaders and investors, and face-to-face interaction with potential customers. The program aims to create 200 jobs over the next
two years in East Africa, with an estimated 60% of jobs going to individuals living below the poverty line. Graduating enterprises are also expected to increase revenue growth by 4.5 times and distribute goods and/or services to 200,000 customers (with a primary target of smallholder farmers) within that time period Ross Baird, Executive Director of Village Capital, highlighted the significance of this program: “Village Capital connects the best early-stage entrepreneurs to real customer eeds across the world, and smallholder farmers in East Africa need access to quality financial services. Together with The MasterCard Foundation, we are addressing this problem by training local start-ups to scale their impact to benefit local farmers.”

Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture: East Africa 2015 is especially interested in ventures that solve problems in agriculture, or for which smallholders or agribusinesses represent part or all of their customer base. Applications are currently open here:  http://www.f6s.com/villagecapitalfintecheastafrica and will be accepted through February 25, 2015. The selected applicants will be announced at the end of March 2015.

  • The best submissions will be: Innovations that improve access to payments, financial security, accounting, cash  management, credit, loans, cash advances, or other financial services for  smallholder farmers or agribusinesses;
  • First-to-market innovations in the agricultural sector;
  • Ventures that increase access to financial services in agriculture, or for which smallholders or agribusinesses represent part or all of their customer base;
  • Technologies that formalize informal markets, increase the efficiency of the agricultural supply chain, improve business that serve smallholder farmers, and/or build wealth for smallholder farmers, low-wealth households, or individuals;
  • Innovations that provide affordable extensions of credit, loans, cash advances or other financial services to financially underserved households, smallholder farmers or businesses in the agricultural value chain;
  • Technologies that extend traditional financial services (savings, credit, loans, insurance) to financially underserved households, individuals or businesses in alternative ways.

For more information, please contact George Omedo and John Mulqueen, FinTech Associates, at george.omedo@vilcap.com and john.mulqueen@vilcap.com