myAgro Wins $250,000 Lipman Family Prize

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Operation ASHA and Ubuntu Pathways Win $50,000 Each

Liezl Van Riper, VP of Development for myAgro, the 2018 Lipman Award Winner (center) with Marie Lipman (left) and Barry Lipman (right), founder of Lipman Family Prize

Philadelphia, PA – myAgro has been named as the winner of the 2018 Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize. Chosen from more than 100 applicants around the globe, myAgro is a pioneering mobile layaway saving model that enables smallholder farmers to invest in seeds to improve their harvests and move them out of poverty. As the 2018 winner, myAgro will receive $250,000 in unrestricted funds. Honorees Operation Asha and Ubuntu Pathways will receive $50,000 each. All three organizations will also receive executive training and support from Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We were very inspired by myAgro’s business model,” says Umi Howard, director of the Lipman Family Prize at the University of Pennsylvania, “and their trajectory for growth and impact. They have used a client-centered approach to reframe a long-understood problem. Instead of loans, myAgro offers small holder farmers the banking solutions they need to save their money, and assert the financial agency we all require to improve our lot in life.”

Founded in 2011 by Anushka Ratnayake, myAgro is driven by an idea for a savings-led program for farmers. In just a short five-year period, myAgro’s unique mobile technology idea as a savings platform has evolved from a 240-farmer trial to a multi-country program that serves over 30,000 farmers.

“We are delighted to be the winner for this prestigious award, because it means we have access to a dynamic community of experts and change-agents around the world, who learn from and enrich each other’s work,” said Anushka Ratnayake, CEO and founder of myAgro. “We recently were also awarded the 2018 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and its thrilling for our organization to be  supported by both of these impressive foundations as they believe in our quest to end poverty for the largest group of poor people in our lifetime: hardworking smallholder farmers.”

“myAgro’s ability—and potential—to disrupt traditional antipoverty strategies is something that really stood out.,” says Barry Lipman, founder of the Lipman Family Prize. “In a relatively short time, myAgro’s model has spurred structural shifts in how governments and multilaterals can partner together to fund the agricultural sector. It’s a strong testament to our founding principles of leadership, impact, and transferability.”

In addition to the $250,000 financial prize— which is offered to the winner without restrictions—all three Lipman Family Prize honorees gain access to a growing network of change makers and thought leaders to accelerate cutting-edge change worldwide. The Prize connects those on the cusp of great change with resources, skills and people-power to expand the impact and influence of their ideas. Benefits include an executive education program, an exclusive opportunity to apply for the Lipman Nonprofit Leadership Scholarship, pro-bono consultation from University faculty and staff, peer learning events, as well as expert- and student-driven research to inform and guide their work.

About the 2018 Honorees

MyAgro is a nonprofit social enterprise that enables smallholder farmers in Africa to finance themselves by using their mobile phones to purchase high-quality seeds and fertilizer and receive agricultural training so they may increase their incomes and move out of poverty.

Operation ASHA expands access to high-quality and affordable healthcare, particularly in regards to the treatment of tuberculosis, to disadvantaged communities by providing the last mile connectivity, i.e. service delivery to the underserved in India, Cambodia, US, South America.

Ubuntu Pathways is a global model for breaking the cycle of poverty that provides South Africa’s most vulnerable children with an integrated support system of health, education, and household stability, from cradle to career.

About the Lipman Family Prize

First awarded in 2012, the Lipman Family Prize at the University of Pennsylvania is an annual global prize that advances creative solutions by inspiring people to think together in new ways. Administered by the Wharton School on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania, the Prize is committed to resourcing and connecting change-makers to bring innovative ideas to new places and problems around the world. Previous winners include Women Against Abuse, iDE, READ Global, Breakthrough, Riders for Health, and Soccer Without Borders.

About the Wharton School

Founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. With a broad global community and one of the most published business school faculties, Wharton creates economic and social value around the world. The School has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,200 participants in executive education programs annually and a powerful alumni network of 96,000 graduates.