Inclusive finance refers to the delivery of financial services and products that are available, accessible, and affordable to all segments of society, to achieve inclusive economic growth. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC), smallholder farmers are disadvantaged from accessing formal financial services and this has affected the commercialisation of smallholder farmers. This paper examines the role of inclusive finance in agricultural commercialisation of smallholder agriculture in SADC using macro-evidence and a micro survey of Eswatini. Countries in SADC have varying levels of financial inclusion, which may have bearing on development. The results of the macro-evidence showed that SADC has low and varying levels of financial inclusion - with Mozambique having the lowest rate of financial inclusion in the region. The results of a micro survey in Eswatini showed that the effect of finance on commercialisation varied, depending on the financial instruments. Agricultural credit and household savings increased the commercialisation activities of smallholder farmers. For SADC, and Mozambique specifically, there is a need to promote financial inclusion and commercialisation of agriculture. Thus, financial inclusion must be the government's priority in SADC. However, to achieve economic growth, financial inclusion must be accompanied by other services such as market access, education, and infrastructure development. This is important because finance alone cannot significantly influence the commercialisation decisions of smallholder farmers.
Keywords: Financial inclusion, Commercialisation, SADC, Smallholder farmers.