Manila, Philippines – Agriculture is considered to be a crucial economic backbone of the Philippines, with almost 60 percent of the nation’s poor employed in the sector’s agriculture, forestry, fishing, and aquaculture industries, according to the World Bank in 2023.
Despite it being the primary economic activity in rural Philippines, the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas cited in 2018 that the credit gap for the sector sits at over 360 billion pesos ($6.3 billion), highlighting fundamental binding constraints that hamper adequate financing to fuel the sector’s peak potential.
Given this prevailing reality, Philippines-based finance super app GCash – operated by the country’s first duocorn Mynt – has entered agrifintech through a strategic bid with Mayani, an agri-fisheries platform connecting smallholder farmers and fishers to buyers, to tackle the nation’s elusive phenomenon of rural financial inclusion.
The two tech players teamed up with a joint mandate to create the Philippines’ largest agri-credit movement to bank the rural unbanked. GCash and agri-technology firm Mayani will leverage the latter’s supply chain data to underwrite and jointly facilitate loans for organized farmers and fisherfolks needing a production lifeline to provide them quality inputs from Mayani, boost their yield, and enhance their capability to meet market demand while building their credit track record. For their pilot, borrowers will come from agricultural cooperatives and associations in Batangas province, one of Mayani’s rural strongholds.
Following this, Mayani intends to integrate its end-to-end proprietary tech stack with GCash’ to index on their lending balance sheet, quantum reach, and loan approval to e-wallet disbursement infrastructure.
“By leveraging on modern technology’s financial transformation, agriculture, which is one of the most important industries of our nation, can experience rapid growth and sustainability. We are honored to have Mayani onboard as one of our key partners as we continue introducing innovations that will help connect farmers with finance and enhance the power of financial inclusion in the Philippines,” said Tony Isidro, President and CEO of Fuse Lending, the licensed lending arm of Mynt.
Such production credit will be offered against concrete purchase orders from Mayani linked to its downstream commercial portfolio, along with the availment by small farmers and fishers of its agricultural inputs like seeds and feeds to mitigate credit risk. Since 2016, Fuse has disbursed over 100 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) in loans and has supported millions of Filipinos in achieving their financial aspirations and goals.
“We’ve always held the belief that financial rails for the agri-fisheries sector are best built on top of existing market rails for our smallholder farmers and fisherfolks. This partnership with GCash and Fuse accelerates our agri-fintech aspiration of cultivating grassroots financial inclusion, particularly for a sector that got left behind in terms of access to much-needed credit. By situating any loan transaction within a trade and supply chain context, I think we are able to finally crack the code towards making our farmers and fisherfolks bankable, credit-worthy, and financially empowered,” said the Co-Founder of CEO of Mayani, JT Solis.
Established in 2019, Mayani has a grassroots network of over 144,000 organized small farmers and fisherfolks across 7 regions of the Philippines, stretching from the northern agri-corridors of Ilocos region up to the fishing islands and islets of Mimaropa region.
Their digital agri-fisheries ecosystem, initially funded through grants from ADB and JICA, currently operates three value-creation lines: Mayani Farm Direct for market linkage, Mayani Agri-Inputs for seeds, feeds, and fertilizer distribution, and Mayani Fin-Assist for production financing. In the middle of last year, they closed a $1.7 million seed funding led by agrifoodtech venture capital firm AgFunder, along with other key backers Atlas Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, Accelerating Asia, and Ocean Impact Organisation.
Meanwhile, Mynt is backed by telco giant Globe, Alibaba’s Ant Group, Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corporation, and global private equity funds like Bow Wave Capital. In 2021, Mynt raised more than $300 million, led by global growth investor Warburg Pincus and New York-based private equity firm Insight Partners, which made them the Philippines’ first “double unicorn” valued at over $2 billion. Its e-wallet GCash has over 80 million active users in the country.