Social Lenders Join Forces to Develop Industry Standards, Best Practices for Smallholder Agricultural Finance


OXFORD, United Kingdom, April 10—Seven international social lending institutions have announced the launch of the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF), an industry council focused on creating a thriving, sustainable and transparent financial market to serve the financing needs of small and growing agricultural businesses in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. The alliance of social lending institutions, also referred to as impact-first agricultural lenders, was formally launched today at the 11th Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, and will convene regularly to exchange learning, identify best practices and develop industry standards.

The founding members of CSAF include Alterfin, Oikocredit, Rabobank’s Rabo Rural Fund, responsAbility Investments AG, Root Capital, the Shared Interest Society and Triodos Investment Management. New members who share CSAF’s objectives of facilitating financial inclusion, reaching and supporting the livelihoods of the world’s 450 million small-scale farmers and promoting responsible lending principles may be added in the future.

Extending financial markets to serve agricultural businesses in the “missing middle” between microfinance and commercial lending can play an important role in supporting environmentally sustainable economic activity that can feed farm communities and the growing population that depends upon them. Social lenders began addressing this underserved market in the 1990s, both to have an impact on the businesses they could reach directly and to demonstrate models that other financial institutions could replicate and scale.

In 2013, disbursements by the seven founding members of CSAF totaled an estimated $362 million. Though the unmet need for financing is vast, CSAF members aspire not only to grow their direct lending, but also to catalyze a thriving and sustainable financial market serving agricultural businesses. By 2016, CSAF members expect to collectively lend $500 million a year to agricultural businesses in the missing middle, demonstrating their bankability to local banks and other financial institutions.

For more details on CSAF, visit

Liam Brody, SVP of Communications & Marketing, Root Capital, +1 617-888-9125

Michaël van den Berg, Fund Manager, Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund, +31 (0)30 694 2316


About the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance
The Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) is an alliance of leading social lenders, also referred to as impact-first agricultural lenders, focused on small and growing businesses within the agricultural sector. In collaboration since 2012, CSAF’s founding members—Alterfin, Oikocredit, Rabobank’s Rabo Rural Fund, responsAbility Investments AG, Root Capital, Shared Interest Society and Triodos Investment Management—convene on a pre-competitive basis to exchange views and experiences related to industry standards, responsible lending practices and social and environmental impact. For more information, visit

About Alterfin
Founded in 1994, Alterfin is a social investor that raises capital in Belgium to invest in developing countries via microfinance and fair trade producer associations. Alterfin’s mission is to helpbuild a financial network that is accessible to groups of socially and economically disadvantaged people in developing countries who rarely have access to financial resources. For more information, visit

About Oikocredit
Oikocredit finances and invests in microfinance and social enterprises in low-income countries, with a focus on inclusive finance and organizations along the agricultural value chain. With operations in almost 70 countries, Oikocredit currently has assets totaling €779 million (US$1,073 million), with €591 million (US$813 million) invested in over 800 partner organizations. Oikocredit’s agricultural financing expertise includes coffee, cocoa, dairy, forestry and seeds. For more information, visit

About Rabo Rural Fund
As part of the Rabobank Group, the Rabo Rural Fund aims to support farming cooperatives and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries.The fund helps agribusinesses address their pre-finance purchase, processing and product sales needs. The Rural Fund finances sustainable value chains in coffee, cocoa, honey, cotton, spices, nuts, peppers, soya and canned and dried vegetables. For more information, visit

About responsAbility
responsAbility Investments AG is an asset manager that provides debt and equity to nonlisted companies with business models that target the lower-income segment of the population and can thus drive economic growth and social progress. Founded in 2003, responsAbility currently has assets under management of US$1.9 billion invested in over 400 companies and 80 countries. responsAbility specializes in the sectors of finance, agriculture, health, education and energy. The first investment along the agricultural value chain was placed in 2005 and since then over US$200 million has been disbursed. For more information, visit

About Root Capital
Root Capital is a nonprofit agricultural lender that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending capital, delivering financial training and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses. Since 1999, Root Capital has disbursed more than $600 million in credit to over 450 businesses, improving livelihoods for 750,000 rural producer households. For more information, visit

About Shared Interest Society
The Shared Interest Society is a not-for-profit fair trade lender that links UK social investors with fair trade organizations needing finance to improve their livelihoods and trade their way out of poverty. Last year, 8,800 members invested £29.5 million to support 375 fair trade organizations across 62 countries. This included 97 producer groups, representing 155,443 individuals. For more information, visit

About Triodos Investment Management
Triodos Investment Management is a globally recognized leader in impact investing, managing direct investments in the fields of sustainable energy, arts and culture, emerging markets and sustainable food and agriculture. Triodos currently manages 17 funds (totaling €2.5 billion). Triodos Investment Management is a 100% subsidiary of Triodos Bank and has 100+ staff members across five countries. The Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund provides trade finance and working capital loans to farmer organizations and SMEs in developing countries to strengthen the economic position of smallholder farmers while stimulating sustainable agricultural practices. For more information, visit