Foto: Catherine Waking’a

Innovative Finance for Improved Livelihood

Innovative Finance for Improved Livelihood (IFIL) is a five-year project, coordinated by Act Church of Sweden and implemented together with We Effect and Oikocredit.  

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What is IFIL?

Innovative Finance for Improved Livelihood (IFIL) is a Sida-financed pilot project aiming to strengthen Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) in Kenya and Uganda. It focuses especially on women’s empowerment and aims to improve their livelihoods through capacity building and increased access to commercial loans and markets. 

Why IFIL?

Access to credit is a major constraint for many FBOs (Farmer Based Organisations). This affects women more than men as collateral is usually required to access financial credit services, something that women often do not have. By combining access to financial services and capacity building, this project aims not only to strengthen the participating FBOs, but also to set a good example and inspire banks and financial service providers to increase their lending to FBOs.

The project has evolved through discussions between Sida and Swedish Civil Society Organisations on how to support financial institutions to enable them to take higher risks in giving support to FBOs.

How do we make it happen?

Input
  • Capacity building.
  • Loans to FBOs, backed by guarantee.
Activities 
  • Capacity building activities based on FBO’s individual needs.
  • Disbursement of loans.
  • Communication advocacy and continous evaluation and learning. 
Output 
  • Improved capacity (FBOs).
  • Improved gender mainstreaming policies (FBOs).
  • Investment opportunities and loan management  training for FBOs.
  • Improved understanding of how to support FBO’s growth more efficiently (other CSOs, FSPs and  policymakers).
Impact
  • Improved livelihoods of members (women, men and young people) in the FBOs.
Outcome
  • Improved access to loans (FBOs).
  • Financial service providers develop more responsive products to
    FBOs.
  • Strong FBOs delivering equitable and inclusive services.
  • Other CSOs show interest for similar interventions.
  • Improved policies that support commercialisation of FBOs.

Who does what?

Foto: Catherine Waking’a

IFIL is a Sida-financed pilot project, coordinated by Act Church of Sweden and implemented together with We Effect and Oikocredit.  

  • Act Church of Sweden coordinates the project and have the overall responsibility for monitoring, evaluation and learning. 
  • We Effect are responsible for the capacity building stream in the project, local coordination, learning and reach out to actors in the region. 
  • Oikocredit are responsible for the loans to the different FBOs (Farmer Based Organisations).
  • Sida funds the project and provides the affordable loan guarantee. 

The unique focus on a combination of capacity building activities is what makes this project exciting, going beyond just financing, side by side addressing gender imbalances within the farming sector, elements essential for sustainability.

Act Church of Sweden

WHY SUPPORT WOMEN? MS SCOVIA SHARES HER PERSONAL JOURNEY

Ms Bakiengana Scovia managed to double her coffee production and increase her household income. Now she is hopeful that many female farmers will be able to experience improved livelihoods, thanks to the IFIL-project.

Ms Bakiengana Scovia is a member of the Mt Rwenzori Coffee Cooperative. She was was one of the young women who shared her personal journey during the IFIL project launch in Uganda. Since she joined the coffee cooperative, she has managed to double both her coffee production and the price of her produce, due to the cooperative’s collective marketing efforts and agro-inputs provided by the union.

– The increased production and price of my produce has increased my household income, which in turn has given me resources to invest in more projects, said Ms. Scovia.

Her story illustrates the importance of access to input and finance is essential to make a business grow and Ms Scovia heavily emphasised the necessity to continue supporting female farmers in the cooperatives. She explained that women are particularly constrained by the lack of resources and property, as well as by the traditional mindsets that affect women negatively, for example the idea that all cash crops should belong to men. 

– In my area female farmers are good at doing small businesses, but they have limited access to financial services, especially credit, which is due to factors like high interest rates, lack of security, business plans, and financial statements which is a requirement from most financial service providers.

She also shared how the gender responsiveness programs offered by the union has brought other changes in her family. 

– Me and my husband are now sharing domestic chores and manage the family finances together, and we now jointly own our property and land. Joining the cooperative has also empowered me as a woman, to be able to speak in public and influence others, Ms. Scovia continued. 

Ms. Scovia is hopeful that the IFIL project would be able to address many of the challenges that female farmers struggle with in her cooperative. 

– My expectations on the IFIL project is that they will support with capacity building and access to financial services, with a particular focus on women. If affordable finance is provided, we will be able to build profitable, sustainable women-inclusive cooperatives. If you support women members’ initiatives in agriculture, then I can assure you that women are going to create a bright future! 

 

Sida

"By combining capacity building with Sida’s guarantee instrument , we are able to mobilize more finances for Agenda 2030. We hope this project will develop new and effective methods to include and empower marginalized groups, and women in particular, that could be multiplied in various sectors."

We Effect

"Combining capacity building and lending is unique (first of it’s kind!) It will see smaller, weaker farmerbased organisations strengthen their capacity and access credit to sustainably grow their businesses."

Oiko Credit

"The project catalyses and leverages knowledge and expertise. It also employs derisking measures in financing farmerowned organizations. In doing so, it aims to drive change in the financial sector and stimulate financial inclusion in agriculture. This approach makes the project unique."