Founded in 2008 with the support of USAID, Root Capital, IISD, Rabobank, Cordaid, ForesTrade and Montreal International, FAST was the first organization to bring financial service providers together to support and grow sustainable trade finance, focusing on agriculture and forestry. With the support of our key partners, FAST has grown to represent over 100 member organizations representing key stakeholders in sustainable agriculture worldwide.
History of FAST
Scaling-Up SME Finance
Impact investors are increasingly recognizing the importance of the agriculture and forestry sectors to global sustainable development.
Within our global economy, there are an estimated 2.5 billion people dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals running agricultural small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are living below the poverty line.
We believe that SMEs are critical for the economic and social development of emerging markets. They play a major role in creating jobs and generating income for low income people. SMEs foster economic growth, social stability, and contribute to the development of a dynamic private sector.
From lack of access to capital and financial services to access to fair market prices for their products, small scale farmers face many challenges. They need an estimated $450 billion in finance every year.
FAST works with our member network to scale up the quality and availability of SME finance and close the ‘financing gap’. That's one solid step closer to bringing quality sustainable products to market and growing the global economy.
We broaden the reach of sustainable SME finance. Our holistic strategy engages a dynamic group of stakeholders and supports them in their respective roles to scale the sector.
We have developed a host of products, services and project models. Together with our members we prepare farmers using education and coaching tools, inform lenders with investment insights and analytics, and provide a platform to connect the two parties.
We partner with our members to help them fulfill their project goals. We work in more than 12 countries in Africa and Latin America.
Our members include socially-oriented financial institutions, non-traditional lenders, local, regional and international financial institutions, development banks, non-governmental development-focused organizations, certification bodies, export agencies, and producers and their cooperatives.
We support thousands of small-scale farmers in the developing world, creating thriving sustainable businesses and livelihoods.
- Coaching small-scale producers on credit readiness.
- Teaching financial literacy skills to hundreds of producers in Latin America and Africa.
- Training and mobilizing hundreds of local financial advisors.
We open the doors to investment opportunities in key sustainable agriculture sectors.
- We wrote the first ever industry impact report - identifying the social, environmental and economic impact of our lending members.
- We develop special programs to facilitate investor entry into sustainable agriculture and forestry sectors. We continue to develop new sectors.
- We've introduced over 40 prospective investors to investment opportunities in sustainable agriculture markets.
We bring lenders and producers together, facilitating the flow of millions in capital and loans.
- FAST's Financial Marketplace has lender profiles that are accessed by thousands. We've convened over 255 one-on-one meetings between investors and producers.
- $38 million + USD in investment in sustainable agriculture has been initiated by FAST, benefiting over 75,000 producers.
- FAST has identified credit needs of hundreds of producers totaling more than $180 million USD.