CSAF seeks to
Facilitate market growth to meet a greater share of the vast financing need for agricultural SMEs globally;
Promote responsible lending practices and social and environmental standards to ensure that market growth contributes to positive impact on agricultural businesses, the smallholder farmers they aggregate, workers they employ, and surrounding communities and natural environment; and
Build the ecosystem for inclusive and sustainable financial markets and agricultural value chains that supports our vision and mission.
CSAF members lend to agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These enterprises vary in size (annual revenues range from $250K to well over $10M) and structure (from producer organizations to private enterprises).CSAF lenders seek to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and promote environmentally sustainable practices by financing agricultural SMEs that purchase crops from hundreds or thousands of individual producers and then aggregate, process, and sell those crops into domestic or global markets.
In addition to providing economic opportunities for farm households, the businesses served by CSAF members generate substantial seasonal and year-round employment and often function as multi-service providers. For examples of agricultural SMEs financed by CSAF members and the impact they have on rural communities and the environment, view our Case Studies.
Responsible Lending Principles
From discussions over the years regarding the challenges to identifying agricultural businesses that meet lenders’ risk parameters, CSAF members recognized that every institution faces similar constraints. Out of this conversation grew Aceli Africa, a market incentive facility with the aim of addressing the challenging economics of serving agricultural SMEs and mobilizing $700 million in lending to this segment in East Africa by 2024. CSAF has incubated the initiative in partnership with GDI since 2018. After two years of data collection and stakeholder engagement, Aceli Africa launched in August 2020. Aceli’s model “prices into the market” and compensates lenders for the positive social and environmental impact of lending that would not otherwise be financially attractive. In this way, it aligns lending economics with the impact objective of increasing capital flows to inclusive agricultural SMEs.
Aceli Africa is emblematic of the role that CSAF plays in the market: facilitating dialogue among practitioners to identify market challenges, mobilize stakeholders to develop innovative solutions, and engage the broader marketplace in testing and bringing these solutions to scale.