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Certified Expert in Sustainable Agricultural Finance

Farming is everyone's business! The below facts try to prove this bold statement:

Firstly, the world population will reach 10 billion by the year 2050, and global food demand will increase by some 50 percent until then. Yet, 30 percent of global food production is lost and wasted.

Secondly, the food sector is responsible for 26 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change. Moreover, up to 2,000 species of wild animals and plants are estimated to become extinct each year, and modern agriculture is the main driver of this biodiversity loss. On top of that, we lose almost 1 percent of global farmland every year due to environmental degradation.

Thirdly, there are an estimated 570 million farms worldwide, 84 percent of them are smallholdings with less than 2 hectares of land. These farms operate only 12 percent of all agricultural land on our planet, but still produce roughly one-third of the world's food.

These factual highlights are the foundation of our new e-learning program “Certified Expert in Sustainable Agricultural Finance” (CESAF). The self-paced online course focuses on the central question how financial institutions can help farmers – especially poor smallholders - to shift to sustainable agricultural practices that lead to secured livelihoods, better working conditions on farms, and enhanced resilience to climate change.

Improved access to finance plays a significant role in the transformation of the food and agriculture sector. Farmers and agribusinesses need loans, insurance, leasing, and many other financial services to become more sustainable. Financial institutions seek qualified employees who understand the financial needs and dynamics in agricultural value chains.

A similar course is available in French.

What Do We Offer?

  • A professional and interactive e-learning platform: downloadable PDF scripts, e-library, short videos, practical exercises, case studies, online tests, and a chat forum for exchange with peers, the course tutor, and the FS e-Campus team.
  • Personalized support from your FS e-Campus team.
  • The possibility to attain a Frankfurt School Certificate after passing the final exam or a confirmation of course completion after completing the course. After passing the final exam, you will earn 3 ECTS (academic credit points of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). The points can be credited to other academic learning programs. 

Tuition Fees*

Regular Tuition Fee:  EUR 900

Early Bird Fee: EUR 700  (by July 15)

  • 10% group discount (for 2 or more participants working for the same institution)
  • 10% for FS Alumni
  • For package discounts, please contact us
Payment Options
  • Bank Transfer (bank fees to be covered by participants)
  • Credit Card
  • PayPal

Payment in instalments is not possible.

*Subject to change

Target Audience

The CESAF online course primarily addresses agricultural finance practitioners in emerging markets, especially mid-level managers and field staff of agricultural development banks, rural microfinance institutions, insurance and leasing companies, and other financial institutions intending to engage in agricultural finance. The course will also be useful for people who are engaged in agricultural policymaking or regulation and supervision of the agricultural finance sector, as well as for those who are interested to become consultants and advisors in the field of Sustainable Agricultural Finance.


The course is scheduled for 6 months, assuming an average of 4 hours of self-study per week. It consists of 5 mandatory units, which are built upon each other.

The course is mostly self-paced, but there are a few mandatory deadlines, especially for the home assignment towards the end of the course.

You are not sure if you manage to complete the course within 6 months? No worries! You can apply for a course extension (6 more months) against an administrative fee.


Course Start Course End Registration Early Bird
1 Sept. 29 Feb. 1 June - 1 Sept by July 15
1 Mar. 31 Aug. 1 Dec. - 1 Mar. by Jan. 15

Course Objectives

On successful completion of this course, participants will have a thorough comprehension of principal concepts and good practices in agricultural finance, i.e. they have learned to:

  • appreciate the global importance of the agricultural sector
  • understand the characteristics of different stakeholders and client segments in agricultural finance
  • design financial products, services and delivery channels required by different client segments
  • implement risk management procedures
  • conduct credit risk analysis and credit allocation for agricultural clients
  • carry out marketing, credit sales and customer relationship activities
  • appreciate the wide range of recent innovations in the field of agricultural finance


Registration is open until September 30th. 

Course Details*

The “Certified Expert in Sustainable Agricultural Finance” covers a wide range of topics, including basic agricultural knowledge and specific financial instruments. Participants will gain a broad perspective on the concept of Sustainable Agricultural Finance and acquire the necessary skills to design feasible operations, products and delivery channels. The program is structured into 5 mandatory units and 3 voluntary electives:

  • Unit 1 introduces the concepts and practices of Farming Systems and Sustainable Agriculture.
  • Unit 2 presents the most widely used Business Models in Sustainable Agricultural Finance.
  • Unit 3 provides in-depth knowledge about one of the most promising business models for sustainable smallholder finance: Sustainable Agricultural Value Chain Finance.
  • Unit 4 looks at major aspects of Credit Risk Management in Sustainable Agricultural Finance, including individual credit risk and portfolio risk.
  • Unit 5 covers all relevant aspects of Credit Cycle Management in Sustainable Agricultural Finance – ranging from product development to loan appraisal and repayment monitoring.
  • The voluntary electives address three topics: Digital Solutions for Sustainable Agricultural Finance; Sustainable Agricultural Insurance; Gender and Sustainable Agricultural Finance

This course is based on Frankfurt School’s extensive experience in practical project work and professional education programs, and it is tailored to the needs of our target audience.

*subject to change

Unit 1

Farming Systems & Sustainable Agriculture

This unit sets the foundation for the course by providing basic knowledge about agriculture, which will be especially useful for those course participants that have no agriculture background. This knowledge will be essential for a better understanding of the following units.

In this unit, you will learn about the key characteristics of major farming systems in the world – such as pastoralism, traditional mixed farming, industrialised livestock production – and the typical financial needs of those farming systems. In addition, you will learn about key practices in sustainable agriculture with a focus on smallholder farmers.

Unit 2

Business Models in Sustainable Agriculture Finance (SAF)

This unit provides an overview and critical discussion of different business models used in SAF. We will present different types of financial institutions that engage in agricultural finance and then look at typical financial products, delivery channels, and institutional arrangements used by the providers of SAF.

You will gain a deep understanding of the business model concept and the business purpose from the perspective of financial institutions that already provide or intend to provide SAF. You will further learn about the double and triple bottom line concept in SAF, and gain knowledge of the key characteristics of the main business models currently used in SAF. Finally, you will be encouraged to reflect critically on the advantages and disadvantages of different SAF business models.

Unit 3

Sustainable Agricultural Value Chain Finance

This unit provides a deep insight into a very promising new business model used in agricultural finance: Sustainable Agricultural Value Chain Finance (SAVCF). We will approach this topic from a conceptual and practical perspective. You will learn about the concept of value chain finance and the institutional requirements for successful SAVCF. Further, you will gain a thorough understanding of the characteristics and practices of contract farming in the context of SACVF. In addition, we will present and analyse typical SAVCF operations (examples from the field).

Unit 4

Credit Risk Management in SAF

This unit covers the main issues related to risk management in SAF, with a focus on smallholder lending. You will get a good understanding of the main risks that farmers and SAF providers face. We will focus on individual credit risks and loan portfolio risks. In addition, you will learn about tools used for risk identification and risk measuring in agri-finance institutions. Moreover, we will look at the most important risk management practices used by institutions lending to smallholder farmers.

Unit 5

Credit Cycle Management in SAF

This unit covers the main issues related to conventional credit management in SAF, with a focus on smallholder lending. We will explain the difference between group and individual lending. Next, we will present the elements of the traditional credit cycle and look at ways how they can be managed in group and individual lending. Finally, you will learn about good practices in credit cycle management in SAF, with a focus on smallholder lending.

Unit 6

Wrap-Up and Outlook

This unit wraps up the course by summarizing the key messages of all units. It also presents the main contents of the optional electives:

Unit 7


Do you want to get more out of the course?

The course provides you with three electives to deepen your knowledge in the field of your interest.

Unit 7a – Digital Solutions for Sustainable Agricultural Finance

Unit 7b – Sustainable Agricultural Insurance

Unit 7c – Gender and Sustainable Agricultural Finance

Training Approach

The flexibility of our courses offers you the opportunity to follow your own schedule and combine daily work with professional development.

The high quality offered will immediately improve your daily job performance as well as the performance of your institution.

Training Material

Video Lectures

  • Intro-videos: After viewing the lectures, participants will have a basic understanding of each topic and will be able to classify the importance and relevance of different techniques and aspects in a broader context.
  • Web-based Presentations: Web-based presentations complement the scripts and give additional input on important topics.

Online Tests

Each unit ends with an online test comprising a set of 10 - 15 multiple-choice questions. Only after having successfully completed the online test, you will gain access to the next unit.

Reading Material

A PDF script is the main studying material. This reading material provides basic concepts and principles applicable to the subject of each unit.


The key to successful learning is the immediate use of newly acquired knowledge and the transfer of theory into practice. Our online courses are therefore supplemented by mandatory assignments.

Discussion Forum

A course discussion forum enables the interaction between participants and trainers and facilitates the exchange of experiences as well as the possibility to ask questions or get clarifications.

Final Exam

Passing a final examination is a requirement for obtaining your certificate.

  • Location: The final exam takes place online
  • Duration: The final exam takes 2 hours.
  • Costs: An additional final exam fee will be charged for the second and third final exam attempt
  • Certificate: Your digital certificate will be available upon passing the final examination.

If you do not wish to take the final exam, you will receive a confirmation of course participation after completing the course.

Suggestions & Recommendations

While you decide on the timing and pace of your learning experience, we would like to give you some recommendations on how to get the most out of this course:

Your schedule: We will provide you with a course schedule including voluntary and mandatory deadlines. The course schedule serves as a guideline for your personal learning schedule and will help you complete the programme within the given time frame.

Assignments: With the assignments, you will learn how to apply the knowledge learned during the course. It is important that you take time to read the necessary material and solve the assignment.

Networking Opportunities: Use the forum to introduce yourself to your peers and start interesting discussions.

Course Lecturer: Helmut Grossmann

Helmut Grossmann

Helmut Grossmann has been working for the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management as a Micro and Agricultural Finance Specialist since 2004. He was Acting Head of the School’s International Advisory Services (IAS) from 2004 to 2005 and since then worked in well over 20 countries as trainer and consultant.

Helmut has worked with the Frankfurt School e-Campus since its inception in 2010, setting the foundation for its renowned training approach with the creation of its very first course, Certified Expert in Microfinance. He later also developed Certified Expert in Agricultural Finance. 


Course contributes to UN SDGs

All our courses contribute to the following SDGs:


Beyond your Certificate


Master of Leadership in Sustainable Finance

The Certified Expert in Sustainable Agricultural Finance is an Elective Module of the  Master of Leadership in Sustainable Finance. Join our Master's programme after completing the CESAF course and waive one elective module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee of the Master's programme.

Frankfurt School Summer Academy

Expand your skills and knowledge in agricultural finance with the Frankfurt School Summer Academy. This one-week, on-campus programme allows participants to choose from a selection of specialised technical tracks. 

Read more about our Agricultural Finance & Climate Risk track here.

Diploma in Financial Inclusion

The Certified Expert in Sustainable Agricultural Finance is part of the curriculum of our Diploma in Financial Inclusion. Enrol for our Diploma after completing the CESAF course and waive one module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee for the Diploma.

Diploma in Green Finance

The Certified Expert in Sustainable Agricultural Finance is part of the curriculum of our Diploma in Green Finance. Enrol on our Diploma after completing the CESAF course and waive one module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee for the Diploma.

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