Supporting small farmers and agri-SMEs to better access regional or global markets for their products, securing off-takers and generating higher incomes are important steps to building resilience, strengthening food security, improving livelihoods and tackling poverty. GAA-EL members have the opportunity to collaborate to improve market access and investment opportunities for actors along the supply chain through, for example, the Agri-SME Digital Finance Platform and through GAA-EL’s close collaboration with Just Rural Transition Investment Partnerships.
Agriculture workers and dependents make up two thirds of the 740 million people facing extreme poverty. Limited market access and a lack of transparent market information or financing opportunities exacerbate the challenges they face. Efforts to increase yields and safe-guard natural resources must be coupled with solutions that enable equitable market access in order to stimulate higher, more diversified incomes and sustainable, socio-economic development.
Companies have an important role to play in facilitating access to markets for smaller suppliers, and in turn will benefit from a stable and transparent supply of diversified, high-quality agricultural products. Consumers are increasingly demanding more inclusive procurement and labor employment practices that support rural communities with fair access to domestic, regional, and global markets and provide the necessary safety nets. There is also untapped demand for transformational investment upstream in the value chain that could ensure supply chains are resilient to climate change and other shocks. The need for capital is vast and investors are responding with innovative financial instruments and diversified portfolios with ESG requirements: the investment opportunity in transforming food and land use systems is estimated at USD $300-$350 billion/year until 2030.
To cultivate greater access to markets, GAA-EL launched the Agri-SME Digital Finance Platform to connect investors with a pipeline of agri-SME opportunities, and improve the visibility of SMEs within the financing ecosystem. The platform offers a dynamic interface for users to post requests for funding, review deals in the pipeline, invite contacts to join, conduct due diligence, and more.
WBCSD hosts the Just Rural Transition (JRT)’s Investment Partnerships Initiative, which is exploring the business case for investing in people-centered food systems; developing knowledge products to support investors and partners in decision-making; and catalyzing investment partnerships that scale sustainable agricultural production while improving livelihoods.