Heifer International Joins White House-Backed Alliance to Boost Farmers’ Digital Access in Africa

By Heifer International

May 29, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 29, 2024 – Heifer International has committed to bringing at least 10 million African farmers into the digital economy as part of an ambitious public-private initiative endorsed by the White House.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled the initiative, called Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy (MADE) Alliance: Africa, during a meeting of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C. on May 24.

“Many could rightly argue that the future is on the continent of Africa,” said Harris, noting that the median age in Africa is 19, a sign of the potential for economic growth. “It is not simply about aid, but about investment and understanding the capacity that exists.”

The alliance, led by the African Development Bank and Mastercard, aims to provide digital access to critical services for 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next 10 years. Heifer International is a founding alliance member alongside Equity Bank Group, Microsoft, Unconnected.org and the Syngenta Foundation. 

MADE will initially focus on supporting the agricultural sector and women. For example, an initial alliance project is aimed at providing digital access for three million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, before expanding to Uganda, Ethiopia, and Ghana, and then continent-wide.

Heifer’s role, in collaboration with Mastercard, is to catalyze this last mile digital visibility and traceability in agriculture through ecosystem strengthening and curated financial and technical support for micro, small, and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs. Digital visibility for smallholder farmers creates a platform that makes it easier, safer, and faster for farmers to get paid more for their produce, thereby improving their income.

The launch of the MADE alliance follows a visit by Vice President Harris to Ghana in March, where she issued a call to action to business and philanthropic leaders to make commitments and investments in support of the U.S. Administration’s Digital Transformation with Africa initiative.

Speaking in the Ghanaian capital Accra at the time, Vice President Harris said: “Whether you are a student relying on virtual courses, a farmer relying on an app for an early warning about extreme weather, or a small business owner looking to sell goods online, digital services are essential to 21st century economies.” 

Adesuwa Ifedi, Heifer International’s Senior Vice President of Africa Programs, says the MADE Alliance has the potential to drive digital and economic inclusion across the continent.

“The MADE alliance sits perfectly with Heifer’s work with our partners in Africa as we mark 50 years of working in the continent in 2024,” Ifedi said. “Access to finance is undeniably one of the most pressing challenges facing farmers across Africa. Approximately 80% of Africa's agricultural production comes from smallholder farmers, yet they often lack access to formal financial services. This translates to missed opportunities for investment, limited ability to purchase quality inputs, and constrained capacity for growth and innovation within the sector.”

Heifer International President and CEO Surita Sandosham noted the significance of the alliance for improving the lives of Africa’s smallholder farmers.

“MADE emerges as a game-changer for Africa's smallholder farmers,” she said. “We are excited about this partnership and are poised to drive digital inclusion that will transform the lives of smallholder farmers and women in Africa. We are on the cusp of a revolution in Africa’s agriculture that can bring more prosperity, security and opportunities for the continent.”

Learn more about the alliance here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/05/24/fact-sheet-vice-president-harris-announces-public-and-private-sector-commitments-to-advancing-digital-inclusion-in-africa/



About Heifer International

Since 1944, Heifer International has worked with more than 46 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Heifer currently operates in 19 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including the United States, supporting farmers and food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income. For more information, visit: https://www.heifer.org


Media Contact:

Leocadio Salmeron, Public Relations Manager

leocadio.salmeron@heifer.org +1 404.398.8858