This week, Mercy Corps launches its Agri-Fin Mobile project in Indonesia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe with USD$5.9 million in funding from the Swiss Development Agency (SDC). Spread over two phases, the five-year project harnesses the deep and growing reach of mobile phone technology by developing and bundling a package of services that will increase farmer's incomes.
Mercy Corps will work with a network of local financial institutions, mobile network operators, banks and agricultural industry stakeholders to identify, develop and distribute the services. Bundled services will include savings, loans, insurance, and remittance capabilities; information and recommendations about seeds, fertilizers and pests; and data regarding market pricing and weather. Services will be offered on bundled mobile platforms so it is easy to use, secure and cost effective.
Program funds will be leveraged with co-investments from the program partners, as well as on-going business development initiatives with other donors and investors to leverage the pilot. The first three years of the pilot aims to reach 180,000 small-scale farmers. Extensive testing and collaboration with partners will ensure pricing, delivery mechanisms, product specifications and technology are sound and cohesive before scaling to an additional five countries in phase two.
Because each service developed provides a clear benefit to each partner involved, such as an expanded customer base, enhanced customer loyalty, improved data about farmers' credit risk, new and increased revenue streams, and more stabilized supply chains, Mercy Corps will be able to exit with confidence that the services will continue to be provided to farmers.