Money burns a hole in my pocket… but then again I will store matches and notes in the same place. As anyone who’s ever saved up for anything can tell you, discipline is key. It takes a conscious effort to put aside money each month rather than go out and spend it there and then. And that problem is compounded many times over if you don’t have a bank account to put the money into and your income barely covers your cost of living. This is the situation that many millions of smallholder farmers across the world face. Food, school fees, medication, transport and a million other things mean that scrimping and saving can be an uphill struggle. Yet as farmers, they need access to seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. Microfinance has been key to helping farmers acquire these things and a new savings and layaway system in Mali and Senegal is providing farmers with an innovative way of saving throughout the year. myAgro‘s platform allows farmers to purchase scratchcards in variable denominations, which they can then save to a virtual wallet. The concept is virtually identical to pay-as-you-go phones, the only difference being that rather than buying airtime, farmers are putting aside money to buy a package of farming inputs and advice come planting time.
Indigo is delighted to be supporting this work with a £10,000 grant. The money will enable myAgro to hire a new data analyst and conduct some trials on the best way of encouraging farmers to save money and ensuring they save enough to be able to buy their desired package. Although we wouldn’t ordinarily support a savings project such as this, myAgro have several years experience in this field and are already supporting in excess of 13,000 farmers. We were also reassured by their stringent procedures to ensure that farmers’ savings are protected. The team have gone from strength to strength and what started out with a few hundred farmers has since mushroomed to reach farmers across two countries. It’s fascinating work and we are delighted to be supporting it.