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NAIROBI, KENYA, September 15, 2016 – Today, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and FarmDrive announced their partnership to explore the use of satellite-based imagery to help predict and solve the financial needs of smallholder farmers.

In Africa, there are an estimated 50.6 million smallholder farmers. Although the agriculture sector employs 65% of Africans and accounts for 32% of Africa’s GDP, only a small percentage (5.8%) of commercial lending goes to this important sector. There is also a gap in understanding the financial needs of smallholder farmers who are often marginalized and impoverished.

FarmDrive – an organization founded by Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire, who grew up in smallholder households in Kenya and witnessed some of the key challenges their families and communities faced in agriculture – harnesses the power of mobile phones and agricultural datasets to develop income-predictive algorithms, credit profiles, and tailored financial products for smallholder farmers.

Through CGAP’s financial contribution, FarmDrive will collaborate with The Impact Lab and Planet to use satellite images to better understand planting cycles, crop yields, and trends in production to help forecast future revenues, timing of income and potential gaps in payments. The data generated through this effort will help FarmDrive and other microfinance institutions to create relevant financial products tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers.

Rita Kimani, FarmDrive Co-founder commented, “We are delighted by CGAP’s support. We created FarmDrive to revitalize agricultural production and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The opportunity to incorporate world-class satellite technology and data analytics is a monumental step towards achieving these goals.”

Maria Fernandez Vidal, CGAP Financial Sector Specialist said, “One of the key challenges smallholder farmers face is the lack of access to tailored credit products that match the timing of their crop cycles; we are very excited about the potential for this technology to help address that need in a scalable way.”