INNOVATE – Adoption of Agricultural Innovations through Non-Traditional Financial Services, is a three-year initiative implemented by MEDA and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). With a portfolio of 10 projects, MEDA is assessing the potential of non-traditional finance to enable women and men smallholder farmers in South Asia, South America, and East Africa to adopt large scale agricultural innovations. 

The INNOVATE learning series features a series of publications, blog posts, and learning events based on core themes from the portfolio, including customer centricitysmallholder products and servicessmallholder household decision-making, and policy and regulatory transformation.

The learning series is tailored for policymakers, donors, and practitioners supporting smallholder farmers and agricultural finance initiatives. The aim is to provide useful research and insight for policymaking and program design.


NTF4Ag: Emerging Lessons and New Frontiers

The INNOVATE final synthesis report brings together key results, insights and lessons from the case studies, pilots and research conducted by MEDA and its partners from 2017-2020.  The goal of this report is to  learn and document how Non-Traditional Finance can spur smallholder farmers to adopt agricultural innovation.

Latest Work

Explore new research and insights from INNOVATE and our partners.

Innovative Agri-Finance Challenge Fund Playbook

Author: Clara Yoon (MEDA) and Kevin Genga (Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity)

Playbook: The Innovative Agri-Finance Challenge Fund Playbook is a collaborative effort by two fund managers and the respective initiatives (INNOVATE and the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity) to assist challenge fund managers, implementers, technical assistance providers, donors, and other stakeholders in managing challenge funds effectively and improving their future design and implementation.

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Lessons from Farming Households: Agricultural Decision Making and Shifting Social Norms for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Author: Larissa Schneider (MEDA)

Learning Paper: This paper focuses on how decisions are made within agricultural households around production, including adopting new practices or inputs along with savings, credit, and insurance products. We also share learnings and recommendations from MEDA’s INNOVATE initiative on how men and women are differently impacted when non-traditional finance is adopted within a household.

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Digital Platforms and Customer Centricity: Fostering Adoption and Sustained Use of AgTech Solutions

Author: Kyla Levin-Russell (MarketShare Associates) and Clara Yoon (MEDA)

Learning Paper: This paper explores the role of digital platforms and the importance of customer and user experiences (CX/UX) to reach and serve smallholder farmers. It further summarizes lessons learned for improving customer experiences and fostering increased uptake and sustained use of AgTech innovations.

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Learning Series

The core learning themes for INNOVATE emerged from the portfolio projects and industry insights and trends, to address the following questions:

Customer Centricity

How can customer-centric principles and practices influence the design and deployment of products and services that meet smallholder customer needs and demands?

Smallholder Products and Services

What do smallholder farmers value and what are they willing to pay for?

Smallholder Household Decision-making

How do social norms, power dynamics and market factors impact smallholder household agricultural decision-making alongside competing household needs?

Policy and Regulatory Transformation

How can governments, regulators and financial institutions learn and adapt in light of technology disruption that is transforming financial markets?


This program was undertaken with the financial support of the International Development Research Centre.