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Heifer International Joins White House-Backed Alliance to Boost Farmers’ Digital Access in Africa

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Heifer International has committed to bringing at least 10 million African farmers into the digital economy as part of an ambitious public-private initiative endorsed by the White House.

The initiative, dubbed the ‘Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy (MADE) Alliance,’ was unveiled by US Vice President Kamala Harris during a meeting of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C. on September 24.

This follows Vice President Harris’s visit to Ghana in March, where she called on business and philanthropic leaders to make commitments and investments in support of the U.S. Administration’s Digital Transformation with Africa initiative.

The MADE Alliance will initially focus on supporting the agricultural sector and women. An initial project aims to provide digital access for three million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria, before expanding to Uganda, Ethiopia, and Ghana, and eventually across the continent.

Led by the African Development Bank and Mastercard, the alliance aims to provide digital access to critical services for 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next 10 years. Heifer International is a founding member of this alliance, which includes Equity Bank, Microsoft, Unconnected.org, and the Syngenta Foundation.

“Many could rightly argue that the future is on the continent of Africa,” said Harris, noting that the median age in Africa is 19, a sign of the potential for economic growth. “It is not about, and simply about aid, but about investment and understanding the capacity that exists.”

Heifer International will play a key role in catalysing digital visibility and traceability in agriculture in collaboration with Mastercard.

This will be achieved through ecosystem strengthening and providing financial and technical support for micro, small, and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs.

Digital visibility for smallholder farmers creates a platform that makes it easier, safer, and faster for them to get paid more for their produce, thereby improving their income.

Heifer Africa, Senior Vice President, highlighted the potential of the MADE Alliance to drive digital and economic inclusion across the continent.

She noted that access to finance is a major challenge for Africa’s farmers, with approximately 80% of the continent’s agricultural production coming from smallholder farmers who often lack access to formal financial services.

Heifer International President and CEO, Surita Sandosham noted the significance of the alliance for improving the lives of Africa’s smallholder farmers.

“MADE emerges as a game-changer for Africa’s smallholder farmers. We are excited about this partnership and are poised to drive digital inclusion that will transform the lives of smallholder farmers and women in Africa.”

Heifer International’s investment in driving digital inclusion is also a key topic at the AYuTe Next Gen gathering on June 11 in Kigali.

The event, themed ‘Reimagining Africa’s Agriculture for the Next 50,’ will feature young Agritech innovators and stakeholders showcasing tech-driven solutions that are transforming the agricultural sector in Africa.

AYuTe (Agriculture, Youth, and Technology) is an initiative by Heifer International that aims to harness the potential of the continent’s youth, innovation, and entrepreneurship to address challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Launched in 2021, the initiative has already generated significant responses and impactful solutions.

This year, Heifer International is celebrating 80 years of supporting smallholder farmers globally and 50 years in Africa.

To mark these milestones, Heifer will use the AYuTe Next Gen gathering to inspire a new generation of young agripreneurs and innovators, driving a forward-looking vision for the next 50 years of agricultural transformation on the continent.

KBC Digital
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