Creating Stronger Communities In Africa Through Digital And Financial Inclusion  

Published 2 months ago
By BrandVoice Partner | Paid Program | Tara Nathan, EVP and Founder of Mastercard Community Pass
Tara Nathan, EVP and Founder of Mastercard Community Pass

In Sub-Saharan Africa, a silent barrier to economic inclusion and social mobility persists: one in four adults lacks identification, according to a World Bank report. This absence of identity is not only an obstacle to obtaining vital services, healthcare, and government programs, but also excludes a significant portion of the population from the formal economy.  

This challenge is compounded by a digital divide, with nearly 60% of the region’s adult population reportedly without internet access, further isolating rural communities.  

Amidst this landscape, agriculture stands as a cornerstone of the continent’s economy, employing between 40-60% of the workforce in many countries. Yet, de- spite the sector’s pivotal role, farmers and other agricultural entrepreneurs across Africa continue to grapple with poverty. Smallholder farmers face several challenges that make it hard to earn a living wage. For example, local agricultural markets may be small, constraining a farmer’s ability to buy quality inputs, like seeds and fertilizers, or sell produce at a fair price. Similarly, many agricultural businesses struggle to access working capital – only 3% of the agri-sector receives credit from banks, as reported by Making Finance Work for Africa.  

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Solving for growth through innovation  

Digital technology can transform agriculture. To get farmers paid more and faster, Mastercard launched Community Pass, an interoperable digital platform that provides farmers with access to agricultural markets, credit, and digital payments. Service providers like banks, fintechs, and agtechs leverage the Community Pass plat- form to securely identify and authenticate farmers and deliver their services. Farmers have reported 3x increases in harvest yields from access to authentic seeds and fertilizers, and price increases of 20%+ from access to more buyers.  

The Community Pass platform centers on the creation of a digital credential – a functional identity – that is stored on a low-cost card. With this card, individuals can gain access to multiple payment and non-payment applications without requiring a smartphone or connectivity. The credential is accepted on common, low-cost acceptance devices, which enables service providers to identify and authenticate individuals via biometrics or a pin code.  

The Community Pass platform is de- signed with Mastercard’s high standards of data privacy and security, to protect the user and their data. The platform is also designed to overcome fundamental gaps in rural infrastructure, like limited and unaffordable connectivity – the card can be used in both offline and online contexts.  

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Mastercard Community Pass partners with more than 40 financial institutions, fintechs, agtechs, governments, and development organizations across Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.  

Building an interoperable network and path forward 

For Mastercard and its partners to make a lasting impact in Africa, it is imperative that we deliver solutions tailored to the needs of local communities while developing an ecosystem that is positioned for sustainable growth. Community Pass achieves this because it is an interoperable platform. That is, all partners use the same underlying technology, enabling service delivery at scale and at lower cost, while at the same time creating a common user experience for Community Pass users.  

Community Pass has already reached five million users globally and aims to reach 30 million users by 2027. In collaboration with our partners, we are focused on delivering the commercially viable social impact that will enable rural communities across Africa to transition into the digital economy.  

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DISCLAIMER: Brand Voice is a paid program. Articles appearing in this section have been commercially supported.