Rural and Agricultural Finance in a Digital Era





Robert Christen is President and founding member of the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. Mr. Christen has held several positions.  These include Deputy Director General at Banco Compartamos in Mexico, Professor of Practice in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.  Previously he held the role of Director of Financial Services for the Poor at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Senior Advisor for CGAP at the World Bank and Director of Technical Assistance at Accion International. He has had a prolific career advancing the work of leading microfinance institutions in diverse regions of the world in more than 50 countries.  Mr. Christen has a degree in Agricultural Economics, with an emphasis on development finance, from The Ohio State University. 

Emilio Hernandez leads CGAP’s work on financial innovation for smallholder families. He provides technical guidance to better understand the financial behavior of smallholders to experiment with innovative strategies, processes and products with financial service providers and other partners.

Nathan Were is a Digital and Access to Finance Specialist with over 12 years’ experience, mostly working in Sub Saharan Africa. He currently leads access to finance initiatives targeting smallholders at the International Finance Corporation of The World Bank Group based in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to IFC, Nathan worked with CGAP a financial inclusion think-tank housed within The World Bank Group supporting financial service providers design financial products to service smallholder families in Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. He also spent four years at a global MFI – FINCA managing a large-scale financial inclusion program sponsored by the MasterCard Foundation enabling FINCA deploy alternative delivery channels [agency, mobile, process automation and mobile financial services] in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.

Massimo Pera is a Rural Finance Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, with more than 11 years of experience in the design and implementation of agricultural and rural finance programs in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North Africa and Middle East and Pacific Islands.

Gerhard Coetzee leads the Customer Value team at CGAP, focusing on customer insights, gender equity in financial inclusion, and consumer financial protection. His work also includes financial inclusion solutions driving agricultural and rural livelihoods for the vulnerable poor. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. Before CGAP, Gerhard was Head of Inclusive Banking Strategic Initiatives at Absa Bank (South Africa) responsible for its branchless banking proposition, founder and Director of the Centre for Inclusive Banking in Africa and Professor in Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria. He is published widely and has worked in several countries, the majority in Africa. Gerhard holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Jaime Anderson is a Senior Financial Sector Specialist, Rural and Agricultural Livelihoods Senior Financial Sector Specialist, Rural and Agricultural Livelihoods CGAP / World Bank. Generating insight on financial solutions for women in rural and agricultural livelihoods.

Linda Jones is a globally recognized thought-leader and action-oriented practitioner in women’s economic empowerment, gender lens investing, private sector engagement and inclusive market and financial system development. On a practical level, Linda has experience working in women’s empowerment and gender inclusion from the microenterprise to the corporate level; her finance experience ranges from microfinance through agricultural value chain finance and SME banking to a range of investment types (private equity, development finance, impact and gender lens investment, blended finance).

Albert Boogaard is Head Smallholder Solutions Rabo Partnerships Albert graduated as an agricultural economist from Wageningen University (WUR) and has over 20 years of experience in agricultural finance in different departments in Rabobank and Rabo Foundation. He has worked throughout the value chain with global F&A players as well as farmers, MFI’s and farmer organizations. In the last 4 years Albert was Innovation Lead in Rabo Foundation with a focus on digital innovations in smallholder finance to improve outreach and services to farmers and reduce the costs of lending. This included the digitisation of supply chains, geodata and the analytical tools needed to translate this into new financial products and services. Albert recently joined Rabo Partnerships to coordinate a combined proposition of Rabobank and key partners towards digital financial solutions for smallholder agri chains.

Andrea Stoppa is an agricultural economist active mainly in the fields of agricultural policy and risk management, specializing in particular in the design of agricultural insurance products and programs. He has provided consulting services to various private and public institutions, among which The World Bank, WFP, IFAD and FAO. Some of the initiatives he has been involved in are the Country Outreach and Risk Transfer activities of the African Risk Capacity (ARC); the development of Public-Private-Partnerships in agricultural insurance for the Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program (DRFIP) of The World Bank; the assessment of remote sensing-based index insurance tools with IFAD/WFP’s Weather Risk Management Facility (WRMF); and the design and review of national agricultural insurance programs in African, Asian, Caribbean, and European countries

Panos Varangis is currently the Global Lead for agricultural finance and agricultural insurance in the Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation – Global Practice at the World Bank Group. Prior to that Panos led IFC’s work in advising financial institutions to provide financial services to SMEs, agribusinesses, and farmers.  Before joining IFC, Panos served as the Deputy CEO of the Agricultural Bank of Greece (2004-2009).

Juan Buchenau is a Senior Financial Sector Consultant specialized in agricultural finance and cooperative financial institutions. Until January 2021 core member of the global agricultural finance team at the World Bank (WB) and leader of WB’s Community of Practice on Cooperative Financial Institutions, working on policy diagnostics and reform. Formerly in charge of several programs in support of financial sector authorities to improve access to finance in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to that he managed for several years a program to support a multi-purpose small farmers’ cooperative in Mexico.

Toshiaki Ono is a Financial sector specialist at the World Bank where he supports various lending projects and analytical work to promote access to finance in the agriculture sector mainly in Africa and Asia. 



Ajai Nair is a Senior Financial Sector Specialist with the World Bank Group’s Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice.  He works primarily on countries in Sub-Saharan Africa focusing on agriculture finance, SME finance, development banks and financial inclusion.