FAO and MasterCard Announce New Partnership

2 September 2015, Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and MasterCard are joining forces to create an innovative new alliance against hunger.

A new partnership agreement, signed today by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Walt Macnee, Vice Chairman of MasterCard, at FAO headquarters, paves the way for a collaborative effort that will develop inclusive payment systems to support small-scale farmers and poor families.

Among other activities, the collaboration will explore ways to provide credit or money to households for purchases of basic needs and farming inputs on local markets, thereby supporting local economies and putting financial tools in the hands of economically marginalized communities.

The effort will benefit from the complementary strengths of each organization: MasterCard’s expertise in payments technology and FAO’s global reach and track record in combating hunger and malnutrition.

Kakuma refugee camp

The partners’ first joint effort will be in the Kakuma refugee camp, in Turkana County, Kenya, currently home to 170,000 refugees who have fled wars and violence in neighboring countries. Camp residents will be provided with prepaid cards that will permit them to buy charcoal produced locally by the host community – charcoal that has been certified as being produced in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. The scheme is designed to improve incomes of Turkana residents, reduce social tensions between those residents and the refugees, and relieve pressure on the environment.

MasterCard will provide its technology expertise, and a meaningful financial contribution, to kick-start the business chain by providing 1,240 host-community households with improved charcoal making kilns and 7,000 refugee households with energy efficient stoves and credit to purchase 25 percent of their annual charcoal needs.

Private sector ally in fighting hunger

“This partnership truly shows that the private sector is a key ally in global effort to build a world with zero hunger. FAO is extremely proud of this collaboration with MasterCard that will support small-scale farmers to become economically independent by advancing financial inclusion,” said FAO Director –General José Graziano da Silva.”

MasterCard’s Walt Macnee said: “This important agreement with FAO further builds on our commitment to establish meaningful partnerships that leverage global technology and insights to drive a more empowered, inclusive planet where people – regardless of where they live or their current economic status – are able to better build more self-determined lives. Together with FAO, we look forward to delivering against this vision.”

Note to editors:

The Kakuma project will leverage the infrastructure of the recently launched MasterCard Huduma card program, sponsored by the Kenya Government and working with local banks to disburse funds to beneficiaries across Kenya.

The effort also involves ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, which will provide training to the 8,000 households on use of cooking stoves improved for energy saving and kilns for 20 groups for making sustainable sourced charcoal.

About FAO:  Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. FAO’s three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

About MasterCard: MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news.