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Facilitating access to finance for MSMEs in agriculture in Sierra Leone UNCDF strengthens partnerships for EU’s Funded ‘Salone Access to Finance’ Project

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Facilitating access to finance for MSMEs in agriculture in Sierra Leone UNCDF strengthens partnerships for EU’s Funded ‘Salone Access to Finance’ Project


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UNCDF in Sierra Leone is gearing up for the official launch of its highly anticipated ‘Salone Access to Finance’ project in mid-March of this year. The Salone project is a joint initiative under the European Union Jobs and Growth Programme.

By addressing the need for improved access to financial services and support for MSMEs in agriculture, the project aims to contribute to the creation of jobs and the sustainable and inclusive economic development of the sector.

The agriculture sector, including livestock and forestry, is a critical component of the economy of Sierra Leone. It employs about two-thirds of the labour force and contributes more than 60 percent of its GDP. The main farming system in Sierra Leone is subsistence farming which is still mainly rain-fed and characterized by low productivity and highly prone to climate risk.

Addressing the financial inclusion challenges, including access to insurance in this sector, is thus critical for the economic development of the country.

In preparation for this significant milestone, UNCDF is engaging with key ministries, departments and agencies, and private sector partners to build partnerships and foster collaboration and cooperation.

By involving ministries, local financial institutions, and other relevant organisations, the project aims to leverage the collective expertise, resources, and networks to maximize its impact and reach in Sierra Leone.

The project design includes four critical components for the agriculture sector: 1. Investment, 2. Insurance, 3. Digitalisation, and 4. Business Environment. This design is based on the long-standing experience and knowledge of the digital financial landscape in Sierra Leone. The UNCDF team produces yearly state-of-the-market reports on digital financial services.

More recently, the team published a feasibility study for climate risk insurance products in Sierra Leone. The study examines the growing impact of climate-induced disasters on the country’s agriculture sector and explores how innovative insurance solutions could contribute to the resilience of smallholder farmers.

Through its engagements and the soft launch of the project in 2023, UNCDF has built the rails for partnerships that are well-aligned with national development priorities and can effectively respond to the financial inclusion challenges faced by the most vulnerable, especially women and youth in agro-businesses in the country.

The project is expected to provide appropriate digital financial solutions to 500,000 low-income customers, including women, youth and entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone over the next 5 years.

“Through strategic partnerships and collaborative efforts, UNCDF is poised to make a meaningful impact on the lives of individuals and businesses, creating opportunities for economic empowerment and resilience, courtesy of funding from the EU,” says Mohammad AlBatayneh- UNCDF Country Lead and Programme Manager.

During the launch Alexandre Serres -EU Policy Officer for Infrastructure and Rural Development, and Mohammad Albatayneh, will present the project implementation phases and announce new partnerships emerging from the project’s earlier request for applications and the next steps.

The event will also facilitate experts’ conversations on the project’s four thematic areas.  The panel discussions will look at the critical role of the public and private sectors, and development partners for agriculture in Sierra Leone.

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