Increase livelihoods by enabling access to market and finance for smallholder farmers
In Africa alone, nearly 850 million people or 70% of the population still rely on small scale farming for their livelihood and smallholder farmers (SHFs) produce around 80 percent of the food that we consume. However, a majority of SHFs still live on under $2 a day. They struggle to access markets, capital and technical support and remain excluded from the formal food economy. Until recently most technical advances have been focused on commercial farmers in the global North with limited uses for the half-billion SHFs in the global South. Including these SHFs in technology-driven transformations is vital in uplifting their livelihoods and re-shaping the future of work in the agricultural sector, which is still the largest provider of jobs across the continent, and the world.
GreenFingers Mobile (GFM) provides a technical solution that enables SHFs access to market by replacing Ag Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs’) existing pen and paper systems. Large food corporations want to increase SHFs in their supply chain but lack confidence in the rudimentary tools currently used by AgSMEs to manage their farmer networks. GFM instils confidence in farmer management, eases pain points, provides transparency in the value chain, enables real-time data and thus increases opportunities for subsistence farmers to move into contract farmering and earning an income for the first time.
The pain points GFM addresses include farmers unable to access market; inefficient paper systems causing lack of confidence in supply chains for large food corporations; high risk of cash loss; difficulties in reporting by AgSMEs to both contractor and funder; and loss of liquidity, time and resources when AgSMEs are forced to provide input loans to formerly subsistence farmers moving into contract farming.
GFM was born out of discussions with Nandos around their desire to increase SHFs in their supply chain but their concerns around the management and oversight of the farmers. Nandos paid for the first two clients of GFM to enable a digital solution that allows for a more transparent value chain and real-time reporting of data. Additionally, within GFM commercial exchanges are inputted and stored, this data allows the building of creditworthiness and financial products to be customised for the SHFs for inputs and basic needs that meet their realities on the ground.
GFM is impact-first with a business model that allows scalability and thus the ability to positively change the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of SHFs. Access to reasonable micro-finance products will not only enable SHFs unable to afford input previously or not provided to them on credit by the AgSMEs, to take part in contract farming and also to access to healthcare, education and to manage emergencies. A decade from now both the lives of SHFs and the supply chain of large food corporations can look vastly different just through efficient and inclusive management of these SHF networks and through financial inclusion for these farmers.
GFM has nearly 7,500 farmers on their system and currently operates in three countries.
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Cape Town, South Africa
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
If you selected other, please explain the dimension of the Challenge your solution addresses here:
Access to finance to enable access to contract work
What makes our solution innovative:
70% of Africa’s population depends on agriculture for their income. Many African farmers cultivate less than 2 hectares and live on less than $2 a day. They struggle to access markets, capital and technical support and remain excluded from formal food economies.
GFM’s innovative platform digitizes and lowers the cost of SHF management systems. In doing so, GFM brings impact assessments to agricultural supply chains and access to finance for SHFs and AgSMEs. The GFM system allows AgSMEs to meet the criteria of food corporates and the ethical standards of various stakeholders while accessing liquidity to increase farmer networks.
How technology is integral to our solution:
GFM offers a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, which helps food companies, co-operatives, and buyers to manage large groups of SHFs within their agricultural supply chain. Ultimately, SHFs organized in fixed markets, can access inputs, capacity and capital, as their performance and productivity is tracked in real-time.
GFMs core solution allows to: register farmers, record commercial exchanges, track technical assistance, and collect socio-economic and impact data. Our intelligence platform aggregates and processes all data in the cloud and visualizes information in dashboards, graphs and reports.
Our solution, amongst others, also offer features such as GPS mapping and tracking, surveys and Bluetooth printing.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Over the next 12 months, GFM will further enhance its initial MVP. The aim is to build internal development capacity and increase its configurability and functionalities. By building internal development capacity, GFM is looking to decrease dependency on external tech support.
For now, GFM’s product development will focus on building features that contribute to bringing supply-chain inclusivity for smallholder farmers. The attention will, therefore, be on bringing enhanced ways of reporting on impact and credit worthiness for smallholder farmers.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
By building out its software capability, GFM will be able to support increasingly more stakeholders in agricultural supply chains. Through the integration of API’s, GFM will enable SHFs to take advantage of various 3rd party products and services such as crop insurance, access to credit, digital remittances, mobile money, and weather, climate and market information.
A decade from now both the lives of SHFs and the supply chain of large food corporations can look vastly different just through efficient & inclusive management of these SHF networks and through financial inclusion for SHFs and AgSMEs.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
GFM was born out of discussions with Nandos around their desire to increase the number of SHFs in their supply chain. However, they had little confidence in the rudimentary tools that Ag SMEs use to manage their farmer networks. GFM now has 5 clients which it has acquired through word-of-mouth and references. Although business development has been passive in the past, the company is now moving to a more active selling approach, targeting Ag SMEs that work with SHFs. GFM users pay a setup fee and annual license fees. In addition, training packages and additional support can be purchased.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
Currently, GFM has just under 7500 SHFs on its system. The company has 5 clients who operate in three different countries. GFM thus impacts SHF livelihoods by providing aggregators a solution that digitizes their operations. This increases efficiency of aggregators, allowing them to “do more with less”. In addition, and where the real impact of GFM comes in, the digitization comes hand in hand with increased level of information that can be used to develop credit rating scores of SHFs. This helps credit and crop insurance providers to build products for a people who were previously considered “unbankable”.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
GFM has set itself a goal to onboard 8 new Ag SMEs in the next 12 months. Our service to the new clients will be in line with our offering right now. Through the 8 new clients, we expect to enrol an additional 25,000 farmers on our system. The first focus will be to bring ethical financial services to the organizations and farmers that will help them buy agricultural inputs for their contracted crops.
In 3 years, we are aiming to be serving close to 100 Ag SMEs, impacting the lives of 300,000 farmers and their families.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:6
How many years we have been working on our solution:1-2 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
GFMs core team exists of:
Natalie Miller (CEO) an experienced entrepreneur and business development professional with over a decade of experience leading and growing organizations across Africa. Expertise in fundraising and building strategic partnerships with years of coaching and mentoring both startups and nonprofit organizations.
Wadzani Machena (Product Manager) an innovation, design for social impact, and technology product design expert with deep international experience in creating and growing organizations and products.
Wouter Vink (Project Manager) an industrial engineer with a MBA and has extensive experience in supply chain management and supporting organisations make improvements toward achieving operational efficiency.
Our revenue model:
GFM has generated USD100k in revenue since inception, has nearly 7,500 farmers on its system and currently operates in three countries.
GFM initially charges a once-off setup cost which includes scoping and adaptation of the software to client specific needs and training on the ground of client management and field extension officers. After year 1, annual license fees are charged for updates and upkeep of the software.
In Africa, more than 600 million people rely on small scale farming for their livelihoods. Studies from 2007 suggest that 30-40% of SHfs are directly involved in contract farming schemes. Assuming an average family size of 6, GFM estimates that there are approximately 100million smallholder farmers in Africa. Estimated conservatively, 30% of SHFs are involved in contract farming schemes. This would mean that the target amount of SHFs currently involved in contract farming schemes amounts to 30million.
Given the rapid development of the agricultural sector, the rapid penetration of mobile technologies facilitating the inclusion of SHFs, and the accelerating trend of multinational brands shifting their supply chains to incorporate SHFs, GFM expects this estimation to be very conservative and estimate the market to grow by 20-30% per annum.
Why we are applying to Solve:
GFM is an impact-first organization that was built directly out of discussions with a large food corporation that wanted a few problems solved in order to enable them to increase livelihoods through including more SHFs in their supply chain. Collective action focused on specific problems, resulted in positive change. This is a theme for us at GFM and we are aware that partnership is a key value for SOLVE. There is a great network connected with MIT/SOLVE and we believe human design thinking and strategic alliances build scaleable impact, thus we want in!
The key barriers for our solution:
GFM's challenge currently is the re-build of our enhanced product from MVP to a fully-enabled SaaS platform. We will decrease the barrier to entry for small Ag organizations unable to afford digitital solutions and thus struggling to secure food corporation contracts. We received seed funding but not enough to fully develop the platform with all the functionalities. We also need to build partnerships with impact-first micro finance providers and others that can offer value added products to our SHFs. SOLVE can help connect us with the right partners and the cash award will enable further product development.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Mrs. Natalie Miller CEO, GreenFingers Mobile