has announced a five-year, $22.7 million grant from the to promote access to loans and other financial services for smallholder farmers in Africa.
Building on Opportunity International's efforts over the last four years in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda, the grant will be used to launch the Opportunity International Africa Growth and Innovations Initiative, which aims to help approximately seven million people in those four countries and Tanzania work their way out of poverty.
Through the initiative, Opportunity International will expand its delivery channels, with a focus on low-cost branches and mobile banking, to bring a full range of financial services, including crop-specific agricultural loans and savings programs, to rural areas in Africa. "The initiative will also pilot a branch-less banking model to serve farmers in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, provide education finance to increase access to quality education in the poorest communities, and strengthen capacity to deliver wider, more convenient access to financial services throughout the target countries," said Opportunity International CEO Vicki Escarra.
"Opportunity International has done pioneering work in helping the rural poor increase their incomes and achieve up to a 60 percent increase in certain crop yields. This has enabled smallholder farmers to improve their returns and invest more in their family's health, nutrition, and education," said MasterCard Foundation president and CEO Reeta Roy. "Their proven, innovative approach will help improve the livelihoods of even more people living in poverty, and we are excited to partner with them on this initiative."