Financial Access has entered Vietnam through the Australian Government-sponsored Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture & Tourism (GREAT) program. Through improved private sector development and better access to markets and finance the GREAT program aims to improve the economic livelihoods of women of ethnic minority groups in north-west Vietnam. As a GREAT program partner the role of Financial Access is to collect, validate and analyze data on large numbers of smallholder farmers in the tea, passion fruit and other agri supply chains, to develop and deploy a smallholder credit scoring model for banks and to design financial products tailored to the needs of targeted farmers. In addition, Financial Access will implement a smallholder lending scheme for a dedicated revolving credit fund for qualified smallholder farmers in the region. This week the project kicked off with a field visit of the Financial Access and GREAT project teams to Son La Province to engage with local business partners, which include food & agri enterprises, farmer groups, producer organizations and commercial banks.
The GREAT partnership fits well with the Financial Access strategy to connect smallholder farmers in agri supply chains to affordable, formal finance in agriculture markets in developing economies. Vietnam, with its large population and dominant, financially un- or under-served agricultural sector is a key country for Financial Access. The GREAT program offers us the opportunity to establish our presence in Vietnam, to improve financial inclusion in smallholder agriculture at scale and to widen our impact in Southeast Asia.
Early April our team went on a field visit to South Sumatra to visit smallholder coffee farmers in the Semendo region. As there is no airport close to the area the team embarked on a 12-hour drive through the beautiful forests that are scattered across Sumatra. With help from ECOM Sustainable Management Services, two coffee traders, who also grow coffee themselves, were interviewed about their personal financial needs and those of the farmers they work with. Numerous other coffee smallholders were interviewed as well in structured interviews as well as randomly in town, as almost everyone in this village seemed to have a small coffee plot. Apart from speaking with the farmers we also met with several bank in the region, to understand their current agrifinance products and to pitch them a new loan product tailored to coffee smallholders. The project is still in the inception phase, so watch this space for any future updates on the project.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands