1:00 pm
2:15 pm

Agri-SME finance and COVID-19: Issues to consider in the short and long term

Greta Bull (Chair), Maximo Torero, Hannelore Beerlandt, Thomas Essel, Jason Scarpone
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Hosted by:
Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network
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About the webinar
Panel will kick-start a conversation involving key actors in the agri-SME finance sector about current and future COVID-19 impacts, among other issues.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and governments adopt different containment strategies and responses, experts are discussing current and future impacts in many areas. In this context, attention to the impact of the crisis on agricultural value chains and food systems has been growing, and so has recognition of the challenges facing particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the sector. Yet, a structured reflection around the impact of COVID-19 on demand and supply of agri-SME finance remains needed.

This reflection is of momentous importance, given that MSMEs are the backbone of agricultural supply chains in most developing countries. Many of these enterprises struggle even in “normal” times to access the range of financial services they need. Today, many are reporting new challenges due to restrictions on labour movement, logistical bottlenecks, and falls in market demand, all of which impact on their financial needs as well as on their capacity to repay loans.

While these are all highly location and value chain specific, similar needs and concerns are being reported in different countries and regions. Many governments and financial institutions are taking measures to help keep afloat SMEs, mostly with a focus on immediate response, but measures to ensure longer-term resilience are likely to be soon needed, given projected impact on economies, jobs and incomes.

This panel will kick-start a conversation among some key actors in the agri-SME finance sector about what impacts we are seeing and what we will likely see in the future, what the data is telling us and where key information gaps are, and what remains relevant and what needs rethinking in terms of policies, institutional arrangements, financial products, and delivery mechanisms.

The objective is two-fold. First, it is to illuminate areas where information gaps are critical and to think about how to fill them. Second, it is to point to areas where existing tools and approaches can be deployed and those where new solutions need to be developed.

The webinar is organised by the Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN).



  1. Current impacts of the crisis on the demand and supply sides of agri-SME finance. How is demand evolving? How are finance providers and intermediaries responding? Are new products and services emerging?
  2. Likely future impacts: How will volume and quality or composition of demand for agricultural and agri-SME finance change with economic slowdown in the coming months? Are there opportunities to develop new business models to sustain an effective response in the agri-finance ecosystem?
  3. Policy: What is the role of policy? What policy responses are being put in place, how are they working, and what are the key enabling factors? How does country and local context affect viable policy responses?
  4. Finance: What are the approaches and tools in agricultural finance that are proving relevant? For instance, how effective are proving to be emergency credit lines and new working capital loans, on the finance supply side, and social transfers on the demand side? Where are the main gaps, particularly as market conditions and business models in value chains evolve?
  5. Assistance: What are the approaches and tools that are likely to work best to support future recovery for MSMEs? For instance, how feasible and effective are likely to be measures to sustain demand for agricultural products, or new financial and regulatory packages to strengthen the liquidity of financial service providers in the longer term?
Focus Region:
Focus Topic:
Market / Trade
Institutions / Organizations

Greta Bull (Chair)

CEO of CGAP and Director at the World Bank Group

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Maximo Torero

Chief Economist and Assistant Director-General at FAO

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Hannelore Beerlandt

Chief Executive Officer, AGRICORD

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Thomas Essel

Secretary General, African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA)

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Jason Scarpone

President and CEO of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership

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