Access to Finance

Ascend Social Return Fund

Zimbabwe Female Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Zimbabwean Dollar
Access to Finance

Access to finance is a pervasive hurdle for entrepreneurs across Africa, limiting the growth and sustainability of businesses

That’s where you need creative and unconventional solutions. Crosswise Works is partnering with the Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust (ZADT), to design a social return fund for a group of 15- 20 women entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe. The aim of the fund will be to provide women with an innovative loan to invest in growing their business. Unlike conventional debt instruments, beneficiaries will have a blended repayment model in cash and in-kind - to pay it forward to their local communities in the form of products or services. This instrument generates dual impact: at the entrepreneurs’ business growth and in the communities benefiting from the in-kind payment. This is an untested instrument in the Zimbabwean market, with large potential to scale and replicate across Africa if successful.

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The Main Activities

The Challenge

Access to finance is notoriously difficult for women in agri-business, and is even more so in Zimbabwe due to political and monetary volatility which has negatively impacted the investment climate. Women-owned businesses operate in unfavourable conditions and often lack the means and opportunities to scale and reach their full potential.

The Solution

To facilitate access to finance for female agri-entrepreneurs Crosswise Works and the Zimbabwe Agriculture Development Trust are piloting a Social Return Fund. The premise of this fund is to mitigate the currency volatility and hyperinflation of Zimbabwe, offer appropriate financial investments and to build entrepreneurs’ track record and investment readiness for commercial instruments.

The fund will operate through investments (loans) that are made to promising entrepreneurs, which are repaid primarily in the form of products or services to people in need in their local communities. This system not only allows women to access credit in an otherwise unfavourable market, but creates additional spillover impact in the local community.

The Partnership

Our close partner in this project is the Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust. As our on-the-ground partner, they have been working on capacity building training for the target group of women entrepreneurs and will manage the Fund after it’s launch in 2021. The project is supported by the RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Harare.

The Opportunity

Social Return Funds are an innovative financial instrument that cater to the “missing middle” of entrepreneurs in developing countries in macro-economic environments that hamper the access to mainstream financial services Crosswise Works’ aim is to develop a Social Return Fund as a financial instrument to be scaled and replicated for entrepreneurs across Africa.

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Working together to innovate access to finance

Our Social Return Fund model is an example of the tailored financial instruments we design for entrepreneurs. We are eager to talk to parties who are interested to explore collaboration and exchange on innovative financial solutions.

Get in Touch
Bas crosswise1092
Responsible Impact Manager

Get in touch with Bas

For more information about the project please contact our Access to Finance expert Judith to hear more about the Ascent Social Return Fund or other financial instruments and strategies.

Email Bas
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