Access to capital for agricultural SMEs as driver for economic transformation

About the panel

How can we bring investments in sustainable agriculture in developing countries to scale?

  • There is a growing group of agricultural small and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SMEs) that have no access to capital: capital terms don’t match their agriculture business, their business is too big for microfinance programmes and too small for local banks.

    Kwabena Assan Mends, director of SME Emfed in Ghana, has no access to capital. He is one example of the so-called ‘missing middle’ that represents a thriving force for agricultural development in many countries. The panelists will discuss issues such as: What role can banks and investors play to bring financial services for SMEs to scale in the countryside? And how can governments and CSOs support that development?

    Location: Club 9   Time: 10:20-11:15


Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi

Isaac Kwadwo Gyamfi is Managing Director at Solidaridad West Africa, with almost 30 years of experience in development management.

Isaac has a good understanding of how markets work for smallholder farmers and miners, and the development of sustainable supply chains.

Prior to joining Solidaridad in 2012, Isaac held several positions, including as Ghana Country Representative of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. He holds an MSc in Development Planning and Management. He has a wealth of expertise in development research, has consulted on many development projects and worked with many national and international organizations.


Kwabena Assan Mends

Kwabena Assan Mends established Emfed Farms in 2012 and previously worked with Conservation Alliance International as a Certification Officer.

He grew up in a farming community and has graduated from university. Kwabena’s Emfed Farms provides full farm management services (including weeding, spraying and pruning) to smallholder cocoa farmers who are old, sick and absent. At the peak, he managed 720 acres of cocoa farms for 210 farmers but has now scaled back to 180 acres for 62 farmers to optimize efficiency. Currently, he operates one Rural Service Centre and has successfully raised the yield from 250 kg/ha to 1,000 kg/ha.

Peter van Mierlo

Peter van Mierlo has been Chief Executive Officer at FMO since 1 July 2018.

Prior to joining FMO, Peter has worked in the professional services industry for over 30 years. He started his career in 1987 at one of the predecessors of PwC; he was admitted to the partnership in 1996. Peter has built his career on advising clients around mergers and acquisitions and he has held a wide range of national and international leadership positions such as Transaction Leader ('01-'07), Chairman of the Assurance Board ('09-'13), CEO of the Dutch PwC organization ('13-'18) as well as Managing Partner of PwC Europe ('15-'18). He has worked with various clients in the financial institutions industry. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Erasmus University.

Brian Frimpong

Brian is the Managing Partner of Zebu Investment Partners (formerly DAFML), a private equity fund with offices in Ghana, Mauritius & South Africa, managing the Africa Food Security Fund.

The fund has invested across 8 countries in Africa, primarily in the food-value chain. Brian has almost 20 years experience in private equity, investment banking and corporate strategy, covering countries in both developed and emerging markets. He was formerly at the Washington DC (USA) office of Emerging Capital Partners, one of the largest pan-African private equity firms. Brian started his investment career with the Investment Banking Division of Citigroup (formerly Salomon Smith Barney) and then joined Freddie Mac to help restructure the organization. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Howard University, and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

Peter Heijen

Peter Heijen has worked in the financial industry for about 8 years before he started the crowdfunding platform Lendahand.

Peter believes that most important world problems can be solved by directing private investment capital into businesses around the world that tackle these problems. This ranges from alleviating poverty, to food security, to clean energy solutions. In 2014, he founded the crowdfunding platform Lendahand and to date, almost 50 million euros has been invested in projects in Asia, Africa and South America.

Hazel Taylor

Hazel Taylor is associate Director at Acumen.

Hazel is the co-founder of the International Corporate Foundations Network. She is passionate about leveraging partnerships and changing systems to bring more choice, opportunity and dignity to people living at the base of the wealth pyramid.