Blue Rhino Africa provided the concept note, key note paper and presentation for the annual Rural Finance Thematic Workshop for Eastern and Southern Africa in 2012. The workshop is jointly organised by the IFAD’s Knowledge Management Partnership, the Swedish Cooperative Centre and the International Cooperative Alliance.
The theme of this 6th conference, held in Maputo, Mozambique, was “Effective rural finance delivery methodologies for increased productivity”. Blue Rhino specifically looked at Innovations in Rural Finance, in terms of products, delivery methods, technologies and institutions, the role of cooperatives in rural finance innovation, and issues of central bank policies and regional integration.
Under the theme ‘Effective Rural Finance Delivery Methodologies for Increased Productivity’ participants were treated to experiences from different countries including Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Madagascar among others. Three subthemes that were covered during the workshop include: Innovation in Rural Finance, Rural Finance in Financial Systems, and the Rural Cooperative.
Under the sub-theme on innovation, there were presentations on credit guarantee from the Private Agricultural Sector Support (PASS), risk sharing from Alliance for a Green revolution in Africa, and innovation in delivery of financial services to rural areas from Uchumi Commercial Bank among others. The discussions surrounding these presentations brought to the fore the need for risk sharing arrangements that will interest the commercial banking sector to provide sustainable financing to agriculture and also include insurance packages.
A research paper that had been commissioned by the conference organizers to address the main theme introduced the sub-theme on rural finance in financial systems. Other papers by the Bank of Mozambique, Apex Bank of Ghana, East Africa Farmers Federation and the Regional Strategic Analysis & Knowledge Support System followed suit.
In the view that 2012 is the international year of cooperatives, participants were treated to six presentations on how selected cooperatives in Africa are promoting economic change in the rural areas. It was evident that cooperatives have brought about economic growth in rural areas more so by improving the livelihoods of the rural poor. However, governance still remains a big challenge in some of these social institutions.