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Woman smallholder farmer in a field© Irihose Mugiraneza Benjamin, WFP
WFP is building an innovative digital blended finance platform. It's goal is to enable donors and private impact lenders to support existing financial inclusion and gender transformative programmes. This programmes should support smallholder farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises.

What is the challenge?

SheCan is addressing two key challenges:

1. Access to funding to enable humanitarian response

Despite donation values continuing to increase, grant funding is not sufficient to reach the SDG goals by 2030. New forms of sustainable financing, pooling capital from public donors, philanthropies, development banks, and impact investors are crucial to closing the funding gap and achieving social impact at scale.

2. Financial Inclusion and Women Economic Empowerment

The majority of people WFP supports are financially excluded or underserved by current financial service providers—meaning they are un- or underbanked and unable to access financial services. Limited access to capital and other financial resources presents an almost insurmountable barrier when it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty. A key gap between existing financial inclusion programmes and access to sustainable finance is that communities still face the challenge of being priced out of the existing market of microfinance offerings. Microfinance Institutions are often not working with smallholder farmers or small food and agriculture entrepreneurs, or deprioritising them, as they are perceived as very high risk or are located in highly rural settings, leading to high costs to service these microloans. This exacerbates the cycles of financial exclusion, especially for women.

What is innovative about the project?

SheCan’s Blended Finance solution will be able to leverage donor funding to create new mechanisms for impact investors to support WFP’s Saving and Changing Lives agendas. Furthermore, by creating an enabling investment environment with the communities they serve, SheCan enables the creation and scale up of sustainable financial programmes that support communities graduating from aid programmes. By creating a plug and play Blended Finance solution, and working with public and private partners, SheCan aims at creating a programme and financial mechanism that can be scaled across WFP’s operations reaching multiple geographies and several types of value chains.

What are the expected outcomes?

SheCan is building an innovative digital blended finance platform that enables donors and private impact lenders to support existing financial inclusion and gender transformative programmes of WFP that support smallholder farmers (often associated in Village Savings Groups) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Through its digital platform, SheCan will promote the Changing lives agenda, sharing stories of empowerment and success from the communities WFP serve, which should support the sourcing of new private impact lenders towards humanitarian response.

Who are the project partners?

This project is led by WFP in collaboration with Asociación Los Andes Cajamarca Peru, Vision Fund International, Agricrowd BV, Netlight Consulting and SharetheMeal.

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