Introducing Agro Social Finance

Jeffrey Levine
6 min readNov 27, 2023

Meeting the Need in Developing Market Funding Gap. A Global Business and Social Opportunity

The inspiration for the blog is this announcement that Germany will invest 4 billion euros in green energy projects in Africa.

While I got excited about this, however when peeling the onion, I noticed that is just a tippance of the Investment amount needed to make a difference. Furthermore, this initiative needs to include small farmer holders with a focus beyond just energy.

I ask to you join you to join me on this short blog as I explore a few crucial and life-changing ideas.

Extract of the Reuters article

Scholz pledges greater investment in Africa’s green energy sector

By Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marsh

November 20, 2023

https://www.reuters.com/sustainability/climate-energy/scholz-pledges-greater-investment-africas-green-energy-sector-2023-11-20/

BERLIN, Nov 20 (Reuters) — Germany will invest 4 billion euros in green energy projects in Africa until 2030, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday, noting these could in turn help Europe’s largest economy achieve its transition to carbon neutrality.

Germany will need to import large quantities of green hydrogen going forward, including from Africa if it is to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2045, he said at a German-African business forum in Berlin.

The forum preceded a summit of the “G20 Compact with Africa” that aims to drum up investment in the world’s poorest but fast-growing continent by coordinating the development agendas of reform-minded countries and identifying business opportunities.

“Hydrogen production requires considerable investment at the start, so clear signals for a long-term and durable cooperation are needed,” said Scholz, who has made five trips to Africa since taking office in late 2021 in a bid to increase engagement with the continent.

Co-operation and Investment

“Compact with Africa” is based on an initiative launched by Germany during its chairmanship of the G20 group in 2017.

It aims to improve the economic framework conditions in the participating countries to make them more attractive for foreign private investment.

The group of states now includes several countries from the African continent such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia, according to German news agency dpa.

This is a welcome initiative. I would like to focus on the words “identifying business opportunities” and “world’s poorest countries”

What is needed is to address the elephant in the room of Small Farmer Poverty which accounts for most of the poverty.

The question is how to turn this into an opportunity. How to upscale farming into Agro Industries, improving the livelihood of Small Farmer holders.

I want to share a secret — It is possible to identify business opportunities in the Agro Industry.

For example, Africa is blessed with a large number of Mango Farmers. Mango is a $60 billion market, while many countries have the potential, Mango farmers face the challenges of pests (50% production loss), lack of cooperation, and the lack of ability to export their produce to premium markets in Europe. I would love to see real action to help finance and organise these farming Communities.

And if this does not affect you, then think again — Think about the food you eat, food security and the environment you live in.

The Challenge — The Missing Funding for Agro Projects

“SMEs are the backbone of agricultural value chains in such countries, they often lack access to the financing needed to grow their businesses and sustain their activities in the longer term. The International Fund for Agricultural Development estimates that basic financial services reach only 10 per cent of rural communities. In Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America, smallholder farmers require the equivalent of $240 billion in agriculture and non-agriculture finance to meet their needs. Financial institutions are currently supplying $70 billion, leaving a gap of $170 billion. In other words, 70 per cent of the global needs for rural finance are currently unmet.”

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/impact_investing_for_the_missing_middle_in_agri_finance#

Corporate Social Responsibility, Carbon Offsets, Agro Offsets

In my book “Upgrading ESG — How Business Can Thrive in the Age of Sustainability”, I highlight that “Creating profitable businesses and building a better world are not conflicting goals”, and by bringing fresh ideas and innovation, we can do both — create more profit opportunities and make an impact towards a more sustainable world.

In this book, I emphasize the importance of considering the age of sustainability, which extends beyond climate change. It’s about the legacy we want to leave for future generations. Today, we see companies with substantial profits and misplaced business intentions. However, my book argues that it’s entirely feasible for companies to profit while giving back to the communities they operate in

In the book, I highlight that a Good Society holds one of the keys to a better and fairer world. Without a Good Society, we can not make a global change, we will not progress.

The age of sustainability represents a massive opportunity for governments, companies and people -Empowering People. Healing the Planet.

https://www.upgradingesg.com/book

I wrote extensively, about how Companies can play a part in meeting the challenges of the countries they operate or sell their products and services and invest in Local Farming communities in developing countries.

Facebook, Google, Apple, Samsung, mining and oil gas companies, Food Conglomerates etc. all have huge footprints in these countries.

It is time for a rethink. In the book, I advocated for agro offsets instead of misplaced carbon offsets.

I have now expanded these ideas to consider Social Finance.

The Social Finance opportunity

The Social Finance Movement was founded in 2007 in the UK as a national impact finance and advisory nonprofit. “Social Finance:” https://socialfinance.org/ work with the public, private, and social sectors to build innovative partnerships. The model is successful and has expanded to tom other countries including the US and Israel. This has led to the growth of Social Impact Bonds and more.

Social Finance Israel was co-founded by Sir Ronald Cohen, in 2013, as Israel’s first dedicated social financial intermediary, to take a leading role in the creation and growth of the impact investing sector in Israel. Supported by the success of its sister organizations, Social Finance Israel is utilizing the unique benefits of the Israeli eco-system as a “start-up nation” to support, create and export innovative social and financial solutions, such as Social Impact Bonds.

Adapting to the Social Finance Model to support and invest in small farmers, farming cooperation projects is a compelling business and social opportunity.

The Battle of Good vs Evil

In the wake of recent events and ongoing challenges faced by my people and country in Israel, there’s a pressing need to rekindle hope and resilience for a brighter future. It is easy to be brought down by despair, in action and not plan for the day after.

The current scenario, marked by conflict and despair, underscores the timeless struggle between good and evil. Israel, historically recognized for its agricultural expertise and goodwill across nations, now faces a pivotal moment. While past endeavours in Africa and other developing countries may not have yielded the desired outcomes, it’s time to reinvigorate efforts and forge ahead with renewed determination.

Food is a basic, global need, Add to that Water, Energy and Housing. Improving Farmer income and the ability to increase yields and sell to premium markets can bring about a financial and climate change revolution. Africa holds the potential to meet this challenge.

The current situation prompts us to focus on what comes next, planning for the day after, and actively moving forward.

I call on those who are interested in a better and fairer world to consider what I have written in this blog. Consider how you or your company can make a difference. Repairing this world or as we say in Hebrew and daily in prayers “Tikkun Olam” — Repair this broken world.

I urge you to buy and read my book which is available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CKM3FHPS

I hope I have peeped your desire to make a difference, please reach out to me by email: Jeffrey@upgradingesg.com

Thank You

May all the hostages return home in good health today!! Let my people go! We shall overcome! Together, with God’s help we can create a better future for all of God’s Children throughout the world.

Time for Goodness to shine.

Jeffrey Levine

Jerusalem, Israel.

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Jeffrey Levine

Jeffrey Levine provides CFO, Director, ESG Advisory Services through www.persofi.com and is a promoter of ideas and trends where Innovation meets ESG