The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) programme is a partnership between Cordaid and the Mastercard Foundation. The five-year programme (2017-2021) developed market systems to improve access to finance and markets for over 200,000 farmers in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal. Its strategy was based on three core pillars; access to finance, value chain development and monitoring, evaluation and learning.
The country teams worked with 22 micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to develop loans that are tailor-made for farmers. With support from the STARS programme, MFIs were able to develop tailored loans to smallholder farmer groups engaged in eight different value chains. They also offered loans to individual farmers. The resulting agri-loan products took into account the seasonal cash-flows and production costs of farmers. As a result, a total loan amount of more than 60 million USD was disbursed to 338,734 farmers (54% women). STARS also supported MFIs to increase their liquidity by developing savings products and by linking them to (international) investors. The programme also worked with 65 producer organisations by strengthening their organisational and financial capacities.