news - Increasing the climate resilience of Bolivian smallholder farmers


Increasing the climate resilience of Bolivian smallholder farmers

June 30, 2021

FMO announced this week its support to Bolivian microfinance institution Sembrar Sartawi (Sartawi) with a USD 6mln facility, to be fully funded from the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD). The facility contributes to climate-resilient economic growth by supporting vulnerable smallholder famers.

With large mining reserves and vast forest resources, Bolivia is one of the Latin America’s most diverse countries, while still facing high social development needs. As with many developing countries, agriculture is the cornerstone of the economy. However, climate change is increasingly affecting this sector. Over  the  past  50  years,  Bolivia has lost roughly half of its glacier surface. Higher temperatures and stronger precipitation events during the rainy season have also become more common. This exposes different regions of the country to prolonged dry periods, leading to an increase in the frequency and magnitude of (flash) floods, hailstorms, overflowing rivers, landslides and frost. The small farmers located in these areas are affected directly.

Sartawi provides microfinance loans in combination with technical assistance to small farmers in rural Bolivia. Most of its clients are not serviced by the traditional banking sector and rely exclusively on Sartawi to cover their funding needs. The microfinance institution (MFI) will use the DFCD facility to support small farmers impacted by climate change who are working to improve their agricultural practices. This includes purchasing environmentally certified seeds, investing in energy-efficient equipment, or taking out a climate risk insurance product. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bolivia, the support is much-needed throughout the country.

The MFI provides technical assistance at no extra charge to its clients, focuses on improving agricultural productivity and provides professionals such as veterinarians and agricultural engineers, among others. This model is combined with insurance for the microloan installments, offered by a third party. The approach helps to raise productivity while avoiding high indebtedness, leading to better financial results.

Aart Mulder, Fund Manager DFCD said: “Sartawi covers a key component of our investment mandate: contributing to climate-resilient economic growth by supporting smallholder famers in developing countries and emerging markets. We are excited to partner with Sartawi in Bolivia; it is the first time our climate (adaptation) fund is providing support to an MFI for projects, businesses and smallholder farmers located in areas affected by climate change. Together with our consortium partners WWF, SNV and Climate Fund Managers, we very much look forward to further develop this kind of opportunities with a clear climate-resilience angle.”

Marcelo Mallea, CEO Sembrar Sartawi IFD: “The partnership of FMO for several years—and now the participation of the DFCD Fund—drives us in our mission of supporting small agricultural producers in the country, under a comprehensive and sustainable approach. Our mission is even more important now considering the  new post-pandemic reality, where people need alternatives to live and prosper in their communities. We believe that DFCD and FMO will play a very important role in the process of transmitting best environmental practices to our clients to mitigate the effects of their production activities on the environment.”.

Evolution from NGO to microfinance institution

Sartawi is a long-standing customer of FMO. We first supported them in 2013 with a 7-year loan and a convertible grant from MASSIF, the financial inclusion fund we manage on behalf of the Dutch government. At that time, the institution was an unregulated NGO with an ambition to convert to a regulated MFI, or even a bank. By 2019, they attained the license to operate as a regulated MFI. As an NGO, Sartawi struggled to attract medium to long-term funding, which limited their growth opportunities. As such, this USD 6mln transaction not only allows Sartawi to expand its portfolio, but is also a positive signal to the market and potential new funding partners. For more information and the evaluation on the previous cooperation between FMO and Sartawi since 2013, please see here.


About Sartawi

Sembrar Sartawi IFD is a microfinance institution located in Bolivia, specialized in providing financial services to small agricultural producers and entrepreneurs in rural and peri-urban areas of the country. The MFI has stood out as a visionary and pioneer in the development of technologies and tools aimed to finance small producers and to improve the quality of their products and livestock, under a comprehensive scheme that supports small producers through the provision of technical assistance and mechanisms for access to market, so that they can  sell their products at better prices, thus helping them to improve their quality of life. Sembrar Sartawi IFD operates nationwide through 40 branches, which allowed it promote the financial inclusion of people that have not had access to financial services on a sustained basis, an aspect that has become more relevant under the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, in our role to transfer government financial aid to families affected by the pandemic. To learn more about us, please visit our website:

About the Dutch Fund of Climate and Development

The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD) enables private sector investment in projects aimed at climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made available €160 million to increase the resilience of communities and ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change. The DFCD is managed by a pioneering consortium of Climate Fund Managers (CFM), World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF-NL) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, led by the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, FMO. The DFCD forms an important additional instrument for the Dutch government’s efforts in contributing to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For more information, please visit:

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