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Mr. Roger Morier, Senior Communications Manager for Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation, has announced a UD$50 million challenge fund at a forum in Accra, to help improve the living conditions of smallholder farmers in Ghana and other African countries.

The project was announced by a Canadian based Independent Global Organisation, to enable businesses to expand financial services to rural areas of Ghana and across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking to the media, Mr. Morier explained that the fund is aimed at transforming lives by increasing access to financial services to not less than one million financially excluded people living in rural and agricultural areas of Africa.

He posited that their aim is to support financial service institutions with a financial solution to expand their existing financial products and service delivery platforms that will increase financial access to the rural poor.

The financial institutions are expected to compete for the money with innovative ideas that would transform the lives of the rural folks and woo them into doing business with the banks.

Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, noted that, over the last decade, many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa has enjoyed substantial economic growth, but much of this growth has not benefited the rural poor, especially smallholder farmers who are mostly women and who depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

?This new fund will stimulate private sector organisations to provide affordable and accessible savings, credit and insurance products. These services are essential to enable African farmers to increase productivity and incomes and, ultimately, grow rural economies?.

The forum announced that applications for innovation proposals will be accepted until March 20, 2015 for projects in 24 African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Togo.

The senior officials of MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity explained that, the programme would support ideas that have the potential to grow to scale and also have a deep social impact on the lives of rural people living in poverty throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

The fund will be managed by the KPMG International Advisory Service.

A Senior Partner, KPMG Ghana, Amanor Dodoo, told this reporter that SADA could come in partnership with another profit making financial institutions; but not SADA as a single institution.

?We all have a stake in the socioeconomic development of our country. We should, in our small way, contribute to the transformation of the country? hence the consultancy firm?s decision to partner with the MasterCard Foundation to roll out the programme, he opined.

Source: Witty K. Adusu?, The Republic

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