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SME Marketplace unlocks financial access for 75,000 Indian farmers, aims to repair Coronavirus-hit supply chain

Nadia Benaissa May 14, 2020 10:30:00 AM
  • SME Marketplace Safal Fasal is first in India to connect whole agriculture value chain in one digital ecosystem
  • Aims to repair broken supply chain for farmers hit by COVID-19
  • Through FPOs, credit and lending are facilitated for first time, boosting financial inclusion and farmers’ instant access to income
  • BPC’s three-month pilot by BPC sees US$64,000 in transactions, exceeding target by 150%

BPC, the leading provider of digital payment solutions, shares pilot phase results from its new digital platform Safal Fasal, an SME Marketplace for small and marginal farmers in India. Through access to Farmers Producers Organisations (FPO), Safal Fasal has helped 75,000 Indian farmers access instant payment for the first time and increase their income. Crucially, it supports COVID-19-hit farmers to help the food and supply chain rolling, during and after the lockdown phase.

The first of its kind in India, Safal Fasal provides linkage to credit providers and also serves as a platform to access suppliers and trade with merchants and distributors, in an end-to-end ecosystem. With COVID-19 exposing new vulnerabilities in the agriculture sector impacting on crops and livestock prices, this ecosystem has helped farmers to create contingency plans.

Financially empowering farmers in India

Working with ICICI Bank, as well as microfinance institutions and P2P lenders, Safal Fasal provides FPOs and retailers with instant access to digital finance to support farmers previously excluded from the formal economy and immediately pay them for their produce. Over time, FPOs build a financial profile that enables more accurate credit scoring, improving the rate for them, while reducing the risk for the lender.

The closed-loop trading environment forges critical market linkages, by also serving as a digital trading platform for farmers to market their goods to local merchants and distributors. Access to credible advisors including Tanager, Bayer, Coromondal, Greaves and other reputed domestic and international players provides farmers with guidance and negotiating power to guarantee they can sell crops at the optimum price and repay their loans.

Support for farmers during COVID-19

COVID-19 and the lockdown in India has driven the demand for digital access to markets. “Our Marketplace model has proven to be a lifeline to help farmers digitise their services at a time when online purchasing and payments have accelerated,” said Debarshi Dutta, EVP and Global Head of Safal Fasal.

Safal Fasal has been focused on gathering all requirements for the next sowing season for inputs and preparing the ground for credit support, enabling Marketplace to weather the impact of the pandemic. It is also helping farmers to prepare for the post-confinement rise in demand, working with all ecosystem players to ensure an agile plan is in place to strategically deliver produce to its destination using multiple shipping methods and locations.

Bridging real life needs with digital platform

The SME Marketplace solution is built on BPC’s ‘phy-gital’ model. Safal Fasal blends a best-of-breed online Marketplace for tech-savvy farmers and FPOs, with a physical, on-field meeting approach that drives greater reach and inclusivity. Accelerating the use of digital solutions, BPC’s platform enables frictionless payment transactions between stakeholders in the ecosystem.

“Farmers form the backbone of India’s economy yet many of them – including women farmers – are invisible to banks, credit organisations and buyers, said Jane Loginova, COO at BPC. “The Safal Fasal Marketplace model puts farmers on a level playing field with the whole agricultural value chain, giving them a voice, negotiating power and financial access to the real economy.”

The future roadmap

The ambition for Safal Fasal’s is to geographically expand in India to 200,000 farmers and achieve US$33 million in Transaction Value in the financial year 2020-2021. Using BPC’s SME Marketplace solutions, the wider mission is to positively impact the lives of 10 million producers across the globe within the next five years.

BPC and Safal Fasal are calling for financial institutions, investors and partners to collaborate to gain new access to untapped markets in India and beyond.