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The Maendeleo Agricultural Enterprise Fund (MAEF) works to identify, stimulate, and scale up small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) that serve/engage smallholder farmers.

We now recognize that support is needed not only for small-scale farmers, but also for the rural agriculture small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) that buy produce from small-scale farmers, and supply goods to them



The challenge

Many small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) along the agricultural value chain (e.g. traders, processors and suppliers) fall into the ‘missing middle’ of agricultural finance – they are too big to receive support from NGOs and microfinance institutions, but too small to qualify for commercial loans.


How MAEF helps

MAEF invests in these agricultural-sector SMEs by providing working capital and support in agronomy, business and marketing. This enables them to expand their vital services to more smallholders.


The Results

Rural SMEs grow and become part of a functioning market that smallholder farmers can engage with. The smallholders increase their productivity and profitability through increased access to technology, aggregation, transportation and business development services.


Impacted Farmers

80 %

depend on agriculture






MAEF Focus

The economy in East Africa is very heavily reliant on small-scale, private and mostly rural agriculture. By far the majority of employment and earning is done at a family scale, with farmers and smallholders depending on their crops and livestock farming for their livelihoods.

Many smallholders work at subsistence levels, and women constitute the majority of farmers, producing more than 70% of food. However, to operate efficiently and to grow, this major smallholder sector depends on a sector of so-called ‘first mile’ services that connect the small farm’s front gate with larger markets that buy their produce, and that supplies farmers with the equipment and resources they need to meet market need.

Such agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises for example, may act as wholesalers for smallholders’ crops, as providers of transport to markets, as providers of equipment, seeds and resources to farmers, and as brokers between groups of farmers and larger buyers.

Our Partners