Jason Potts

Ashoka Fellow
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Jason Potts was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Jason is making finance accessible to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working in the sustainable agriculture industry. He is creating a collaborative network for global lenders to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investing in sustainable agricultural SMEs. Jason’s organization, the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST), matches socially oriented lenders and investors with certified sustainable SMEs to facilitate the development of more sustainable production and trading relationships in global commodity supply chains.

Jason uses a novel multipronged approach that includes connecting lenders, small producers and supply chain actors (such as buyers, traders, and manufacturers) to strengthen both the supply and demand sides of the market as well as risk management strategies for delivering finance within the sustainable agriculture supply chains. With his online and offline platforms Jason supplies valuable information to SMEs and investors and reduces transaction costs in the delivery of financing to sustainable SMEs. Through his directory of SMEs, financial institutions can search for key specifications on small agricultural firms that help inform their investments. Jason also builds the capacity of sustainable SMEs in emerging economies to solicit and manage finance through a series of “Financial Fairs.” SMEs also use the FAST website, where they can access the criteria lenders use to select investees, as well as interest rates and training services provided by FAST. By building a more robust information base around lending to sustainable agricultural SMEs, Jason’s vision is to facilitate a transformation of the market that more accurately integrates the true costs and benefits/risks and opportunities of agricultural production within financial products offered on local and global financial markets.

Through his global and regional financial fairs, Jason brings SMEs and local and mainstream financial institutions together to increase visibility and investments in the SMEs. He provides portfolios of SMEs to investors and gives them opportunities to engage in speed-dating-type networking with the SMEs at the fairs. Jason boosts the technical expertise of sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs and their staff, giving them financial literacy training and helping them to develop more attractive investment models. This reduces the investment risk for financial institutions and makes investment in agricultural SMEs more appealing. The banking sector’s delivery of services to the SMEs is also being transformed through the creation of new, informed and facilitated products and services for SMEs. By pooling the resources of individual financial institutions and other SME lenders in emerging economies, Jason is creating a new market for investors and enabling a larger and more vibrant sustainable agricultural sector.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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