West African cocoa farmers have difficulty accessing adapted financial services, not only because they live in remote areas. Local financial institutions hardly view cocoa smallholders as potential clients. They are not offered financing products that address their specific needs in terms of cash management, savings and loans.
Getting this access to financial products is key for cocoa farmers. They need different types of critical investments to drive their farming enterprises and to improve the livelihoods of the farming household members: Short-term investments for inputs, mid-term investments for re-planting of cocoa and long-term investments in the secondary education of children, mobility and housing — to mention a few.
During the major cocoa harvesting season from October to December the cocoa farmers earn most of their annual income. The Sustainable Smallholder Agri-Business Programme supports their financial partner institutions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire with mobilizing the savings of cocoa farmers during this period. The financial institutions encourage the farmers to open bank accounts, to use them actively and to save their earnings.
What comes of it?
The results are that the savings of the cocoa smallholders are kept in a safe place, the farmers improve their fiscal discipline and the financial institutions create client profiles for future loans.
Saving campaigns include a linking-up of the financial institutions with the groups that have undergone farmer business school training, sensitization visits of financial institutions in the communities and radio broadcasts in the form of roleplays with sensitization messages. Graduates of farmer business schools are attractive clients to financial institutions and are most keen on using bank accounts.
Module 7 of FBS, How to get good financial services, plays a pivotal role in the initial sensitization of farmers to financial services. In Ghana, selected input dealers offer financial services for a partnering commercial bank linked to mobile money. Clients who don’t pay their inputs cash receive a discount for high-quality inputs.
For more information contact Annemarie.Matthess@giz.de, Head of Programme and Merit.Buama@giz.de, Regional Advisor for Business Services