Focus note PROFIFA: Learning brief for promoting financial inclusion of smallholder farmers project

Overall project goal:

To unlock agriculture value chain financing by addressing systemic barriers preventing smallholder farmers access to formal financial services.


Underserved and Vulnerable Segment is the first Key Result Area (KRA1) of the Access to Finance (AFR) Strategy1 aimed to improve financial inclusion especially amongst women and for people living in rural areas, through provision of technical and financial assistance to Umurenge Saving and Credit Cooperative (SACCOs) and Saving Groups.

More specifically, AFR intended to promote linkage of informal savings groups to the financial sector. Indeed, in order to maximise usage, AFR refocused on identification and training of farmer promoters especially on financial literacy and business skills. Coupled to this intervention has been engagement with at least four financial institutions to support formal financial linkages of the farmer groups.

Promoting Financial Inclusion of Smallholder Farmers organized into VSLA Groups (PROFIFA) was initiated in 2017 as a 3-year project and sough to improve livelihoods of mostly vulnerable rural Rwandan women and youth by empowering them and removing typical barriers such as land fragmentation, lack of access to finance and market opportunities that confined them to subsistence agriculture and grinding poverty.

AFR collaborated with CARE International Rwanda (CARE Rwanda) to build the capacity of 120,000 smallholder farmers. In this regard, CARE Rwanda subcontracted Duhamic Adri, a local NGO, to organize VSLA members in Farmer Groups and train them on Good Agronomy Practice (GAP) and Post-Harvest Management, while CARE Rwanda provided trainings on financial education and entrepreneurships. Specific value-chains had been identified under the project and SHFs engaged in these value chains alone were the target beneficiaries of the project. These value-chains were:

  • Horticulture
  • Small-livestock
    Onion, tomato, banana, and other vegetables 
  • Maize
    Pigs, chicken and rabbits

AFR contracted four formal financial service providers to develop and deliver appropriate and affordable financial products for smallholder farmers. Under the project the four FSPs engaged in the project were:

  • Vision Fund Rwanda (VFR)
  • Réseau Interdiocésain de Micro finance (RIM)
  • Umutanguha and
  • Duterimbere

CARE Rwanda facilitated the linkages of VSLA’s with these financial institutions to increase access of small-holder farmers to finance.

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