Wambui Ndirangu, Class of 2010, recently attended the African Microfinance week held in Dakar, Senegal. The conference agenda was Accelerating Innovative Rural Finance in Africa. She made presentations on two items:
- Microfinance Institutions in Agricultural Microinsurance: From theory to practice and Agricultural Microfinance Institutions: What is needed?
Some of the challenges or calls to action set at the conclusion include the need for innovators in Microfinance, Micro insurance and Agriculture which forms the backbone of the economies of most African nations. There is a common mentality that there is no money or prestige in Agriculture. However, according to Wambui, we all rely on agriculture in one way or another. She states that there are very many opportunities for those who are looking to make a change in Africa – to promote sustainable livelihoods, to change lives and create the services of the future. Ms. Ndirangu works at the Agricultural and Climate Risk Enterprise (ACRE) Africa as a Microfinance Expert. A report on the Website microcapital.org, stated that her team found marketing to individuals was too expensive, so it now brings on customers through aggregators such as financial institutions and suppliers of farm inputs. Some retailers of seeds and fertilizer include the cost of the insurance in their goods. A seed packet might cost KES 420 (USD 4) including insurance. A card in the packet explains how to register for coverage via mobile phone. Some membership organizations pay the premiums as a service to their members, in which cases they collect customers’ phone numbers, planting dates, etc. “The aggregators do a lot of work; this saves us on human resources, which is expensive,” explained Ms Ndirangu. Her customers report investing 20 percent more in their farms and earning 16 percent more profit, with average insurance coverage of USD 100.