Chair of ICCO Cooperation Launches STARS
Marinus Verweij, chair of ICCO Cooperation, launched the Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program in Senegal on March 6, after successful launches in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Rwanda. The STARS program is supported by The MasterCard Foundation.
With the aim of breaking the cycle of poverty and food insecurity, the five-year STARS program improves value chains and give smallholders better access to financial instruments and agricultural services. Marinus Verweij, chair of ICCO Cooperation: ‘Through STARS, farmers can diversify their crops and increase their production. The program enables them to move from subsistence farming to farming as a business’.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a quarter of the world’s hungry people live in Sub-Saharan Africa and 75% of those people are farmers. Verweij: ‘There is a wealth of opportunities for agricultural growth, innovations and varied cultivation if certain roadblocks such as access to finance are removed. Supporting smallholder farmers is thus critical to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa’.
STARS will directly support 210,000 farmers (50% of whom are women) in rural Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Rwanda. In total, more than one million people will be reached.
Supported by The MasterCard Foundation
The STARS program is carried out in collaboration with ICCO Terrafina Microfinance and is supported by The MasterCard Foundation. Ann Milles, Director Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods at the MasterCard Foundation: ‘We are excited to be working with ICCO Cooperation to provide relevant and affordable agricultural finance products to smallholder farmers. STARS will enable unbanked farmers to access a wide range of finance services such as savings and insurances that will help enhance their livelihoods’.