Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Series - Digital Lending for Smallholder Farmers: Lessons Learned from the Field

"The ongoing digital revolution could be transformative not only for the financial inclusion of smallholder farmers but also for the food and agriculture sector more broadly, supporting the creation of more efficient, equitable, and environmentally sustainable operations."

Smallholder farmers struggle to access financial services, which could enable them to invest in critical seasonal inputs. In the meantime, there are challenges for financial institutions to provide such services to smallholder farmers, who are scattered in rural areas with limited information on analyzing their ability of repayment. World Bank team, partnering with a microfinance institution, BRAC, and other private service providers, conducted a pilot project to test a set of existing technologies to see if digitization helps in providing finance to smallholder farmers in a commercially viable manner. Through the designing and implementation of the pilot, the team obtained many lessons. The lessons learned from the project include those which can be applicable beyond financial services, such as the importance of the Human-Centered Design approach to develop and implement digital services for smallholder farmers. The session showcases and discusses these lessons (Full report: Link).

About the Presenters

Dina Umali-Deininger

Practice Manager, East Asia Pacific, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Ms. Dina Umali-Deininger is the Agriculture and Food Practice Manager for the East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank. She manages analytical and advisory services and a lending portfolio totaling $3.5 billion, which focuses on promoting climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agriculture, linking smallholder farmers to markets, agriculture value chain development, and enhancing rural livelihoods and jobs. She formerly served as the Agriculture Practice Manager in Central and Eastern Africa and Water Practice Manager in Europe and Central Asia. She also served as Country Sector Coordinator and Lead Agriculture Economist in the World Bank New Delhi office overseeing the World Bank's agriculture and rural development program in India. Prior to joining the World Bank, she held a teaching position at the University of the Philippines and was a Research Associate at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Economics from Stanford University and a B.A. in Agribusiness Management from the University of the Philippines.

Christopher Ian Brett

Lead Agribusiness Specialist, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank   

Christopher Brett was appointed as the Lead Agribusiness Specialist with the World Bank in November 2016 and joined the Food and Global Agricultural Practice, based in Washington DC. He has a Master’s Degree in Management for Agricultural Development from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom. He has more than thirty years of experience working within the public-private and voluntary sectors in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Prior to working with the World Bank, he worked for 9 years as the Global Head of Sustainability for a large multi-national agricultural supply chain management company. As part of the senior management team, Chris supported the company’s transition from a trading-based company to a global agri-business supply chain management company. From 2001 to 2007, he undertook a range of consultancies for leading development organizations and the private sector, such as the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, African Development Bank, European Union, United Nations Development Programme, commercial banks, and infrastructural development companies. He also worked for 6 years in Central America as a Private Sector Development Advisor (1995-2001) for the UK Department for International Development.

Asuka Okumura

Agriculture Specialist, Agriculture Global Practice, South Asia, The World Bank

Asuka Okumura is an Agriculture Specialist for the Agriculture and Food Global Practice (AGF) at the World Bank. She is currently working for the South Asia Region. Her focus areas are responsible and sustainable agribusiness, agri-finance, and disruptive ag-technology. She has been the AGF focal point for Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) and provides support on various operations, especially on value chain development, agri-investment promotion, and ag-tech introduction. She also worked on several digital agri-finance pilot projects in Asia and Africa. Before joining the Bank, she had been working for the private sector in the financial industry.

Bridget Dougherty

Director, Operations, BRAC International Holdings B.V.   

Bridget Dougherty is the Director of Operations, BRAC International Holdings BV. Dougherty is responsible for strengthening and supporting the maturing of their Financial Institutions in line with their Growth for Impact strategy, including digital transformation and impact measurement. Dougherty has fifteen years of experience in consulting, project management, process improvement, and systems implementation, working the last ten years in private sector development and financial inclusion. Prior to joining BRAC, Dougherty was the Project Manager for the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, and has held several other positions including Program Manager for Truelift, and as Executive Operations Manager at an NGO in Vietnam that worked to promote economic development in sectors that had strong market inclusion for the poor and positive global growth prospects. Dougherty began her career at Accenture, where she managed and deployed large-scale system implementations for Fortune 100 and 500 corporations. She holds a BA in Economics and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Alan David Johnson

Senior Operations Officer, IFC- East Asia Pacific

Alan Johnson is a Senior Operations Officer in IFC’s Agribusiness Advisory Services based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He is the global lead for Stronger Smallholder Supply Chains, a program aimed at linking smallholder producers to the commercial supply chains of IFC agribusiness clients. The program includes several supply chain projects in Africa and Asia based on a variety of commodities.  He is also the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance (AMEA), a Netherlands-based foundation dedicated to improving professionalism amongst smallholder farmers.  Alan has a Master's Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of New England in Australia where he was a Commonwealth Scholar. 

Vikas Choudhary

Senior Agriculture Specialist, East Asia Pacific, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Vikas Choudhary is a Senior Agriculture Specialist at the World Bank in Jakarta, Indonesia. Vikas Choudhary is an Indian National and joined the World Bank Group in 2008, as a consultant at International Finance Corporation. For the past four years, he was based in Ethiopia and led the Agriculture team working in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea. Currently, he is based in Jakarta and is leading the agricultural work program in Indonesia and Timor Leste. His interest areas are the food systems approach, climate-smart agriculture, value chains and agribusiness development, digital disruption in agriculture, resilience, and agriculture and rural development policy reforms. Prior to joining the Bank, he was Director, Global Economic Development at the Centre of High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). He started his career with the Government of Rajasthan, India, and subsequently worked with CARE-India; set up a USAID agribusiness project; and co-founded a felt export business. He holds a Ph.D. in Development Anthropology and a Master’s in Public Administration from Syracuse University, USA, and a Management degree from the Indian Institute of Forestry Management, India.

Questions Submitted

jose luis

- Aug 1, 2022
muy bueno


- Jan 31, 2022


- Jan 6, 2022
excellent...small scale farmer centered


- Jan 4, 2022


- Dec 21, 2021
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