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Origins of e-Campus: Certified Expert in Agricultural Finance
Sustainable World Academy / 16 January, 2019
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Lead Expert and Senior Trainer for Certified Expert in Microfinance
Helmut Grossmann has been working as a Microfinance Specialist for Frankfurt School of Finance & Management for over 10 years in more than 20 countries. Within his assignments he has been actively involved in giving trainings on the job as well as in classroom. From 2004 until 2013 he has been a lead trainer at one of Frankfurt School’s flagship training programmes for executives, the Summer Academies and also he designed the e-learning course – Certified Expert in Microfinance. He serves as senior consultant and trainer for various Competence Centres of Frankfurt School focusing on financial system development in microfinance as well as in rural finance and agriculture finance.

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Did you ever wonder how the idea to launch the Certified Expert in Agriculture Finance (CEAF) came about? Here is what happened:

Back in early 2017, Frankfurt School developed a course on ag-finance specifically for Turkey. We then sensed a big demand for this kind of knowledge, not only in Turkey but in many high, middle and low income countries around the globe. When we dived deeper into the pool we realized that there are several key issues in agricultural development finance.

Change in Agriculture matters for our survival

In fact, agriculture has returned to prominence in the recent past due to a major shift in the international development agenda. The United Nations and the World Bank, for instance, recognise the importance of agriculture development for poverty alleviation. Support to smallholder farmers, in particular, has taken centre stage, in consideration of the fact that about 75 percent of the extreme poor live in rural areas.

But agriculture is also important for other reasons: food security and food quality matters to everyone, especially when we consider that the world’s population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. The global economy also still depends on agriculture to a large extent. Over one third of the world’s workers are employed in this sector. Last but not least, agriculture has a tremendous impact on our natural environment. Did you know that farming accounts for 19 to 29 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change?

Hence, there were many good reasons why we wanted to launch the CEAF e-learning course. So, we worked on the materials, which were developed for the ag-finance course in Turkey, and made it into something more general so that it would become applicable in all countries. Hence, I did lots of literature research (the material that you find in our online library) and I had my own professional experiences to build on. The first CEAF batch already started in September 2018.

Why CEAF?

From my personal perspective, I feel the course should mainly achieve the following:

  • Participants should be aware of the global importance of agriculture and its uniqueness;
  • They should understand how farmers, especially smallholders in developing countries, struggle to manage so many challenges, uncertainties and risks (if you have ever worked on a farm yourself, you know what I mean);
  • They should obtain basic knowledge of agricultural production and marketing because it is really important for bankers to understand what their clients are doing;
  • They should be able to develop suitable financial services and delivery channels for farmers (after all, we are supposed to serve these people);
  • They should have the capacity to manage farm loans (which more often than not is very different to managing other types of loans);
  • And the course should be a great learning experience (which is why we keep text at a minimum, use many pictures, quizzes and assignments, and encourage everyone to communicate via the forum).

Well, I hope we can live up to this expectation.