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Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS)


The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) programme, implemented by Cordaid in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, was a five-year (2017–2021) multi-country initiative. With a focus on women and youth, STARS increased access to markets and financing for nearly 200,000 smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Senegal by using the market systems development approach. STARS collaborated with five microfinance institutions to create crop-specific loans for farmers. In Ethiopia, STARS supported 66,000 smallholder farmers with access to markets and financing, impacting a total of 330,000 households members.

An agronomist on the field
Implementation Area
West Arsi, Arsi and West Shewa Zones in Oromia Region
Mastercard Foundation
Thematic Area
Food and Income
Project Start Date – End Date
June 1, 2017 – June 30, 2021
Farm Service Centers in Arsi Zone, Senselet Food Processing, Woreda cooperative and agricultural offices, ARARI and Holata research center, Kogaveg seed company, Waginos laboratory, Chemtex chemical distributor, HERSA, Bureau of Finance & Economic Cooperation.
A woman farmer on the field

As of the end of 2019, 31,136 farmers in Ethiopia had already benefited from crop-specific loans, putting STARS on track to meet its goal. To build the value chain and create access to markets, skills training, farm inputs, storage facilities, and agricultural equipment, STARS also collaborated with important value chain actors like input suppliers and processors, business development service providers, cooperatives, and unions.

A farmer on the field

People That We Work With

STARS in Ethiopia worked with 66,000 smallholder farmers (including women and youth farmers). STARS also worked with six microfinance institutions including: Buusaa Gonofaa Micro Finance Institution (BG MFI), WASASA Micro Finance Institution, Specialized Financial and Promotional Institution (SFPI), METEMAMEN Micro Finance Institution, HARBU Micro Finance Institution, and Oromia Credit and Saving S.C. (OCSSCO).


  • Increase access to Finance through Agri-loan product development, Risk management, and Capital mobilisation.
    • Improve value Chain Development through Capital building POs, Strengthening input supply systems, and Market access development.


              • 41,125 farmers received an Agri-loan in Ethiopia
                • 5 loan products were developed to date
                • Over 6.3 million USD disbursed to farmers (152 USD average loan amount)
                • 6,161 female farmers received a loan (15%)
                • 6 microfinance institutions in Ethiopia supported
                • 10 training sessions were facilitated for MFI staff members on A-CAT, Risk Management, and Agricultural loan products