MasterCard partners with UN’s FAO on financial inclusion

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MasterCard and United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization are working together to develop inclusive payment systems to support small-scale farmers and poor families.

The partnership agreement was signed this week by FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva and Walt Macnee, vice chairman of MasterCard, at FAO headquarters.

As part of the agreemen the collaboration will explore ways to provide credit or money to households for purchases of basic needs and farming inputs on local markets, thereby supporting local economies and putting financial tools in the hands of economically marginalized communities.

The effort will benefit from the complementary strengths of each organization: MasterCard’s expertise in payments technology and FAO’s global reach and track record in combating hunger and malnutrition.

The partners’ first joint effort will be in the Kakuma refugee camp, in Turkana County, Kenya, currently home to 170,000 refugees who have fled wars and violence in neighboring countries. Camp residents will be provided with prepaid cards that will permit them to buy charcoal produced locally by the host community – charcoal that has been certified as being produced in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. The scheme is designed to improve incomes of Turkana residents, reduce social tensions between those residents and the refugees, and relieve pressure on the environment.

MasterCard has pledged to spark the business chain into action by providing ,240 host-community households with improved charcoal making kilns and 7,000 refugee households with energy efficient stoves and credit to purchase 25 percent of their annual charcoal needs.

“FAO is extremely proud of this collaboration with MasterCard that will support small-scale farmers to become economically independent by advancing financial inclusion,” said FAO director –general José Graziano da Silva.

The Kakuma project will leverage the infrastructure of the recently launched MasterCard Huduma card program, sponsored by the Kenya Government and working with local banks to disburse funds to beneficiaries across Kenya.

The effort also involves ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, which will provide training to the 8,000 households on use of cooking stoves improved for energy saving and kilns for 20 groups for making sustainable sourced charcoal.

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