A Nairobi-based agri-tech start-up Selina Wamucii that promotes agricultural supply chain has received a grant of Sh10 million from a global social impact programme.
The $100,000 grant is from Expo Live, run by organisers of the next World Expo, Expo 2020 Dubai.
Selina Wamucii’s mobile platform aims to improve the agricultural supply chain by enabling buyers and exporters to source fresh produce directly from smallholder farmers, even without access to the internet.
By shortening the supply chain, the platform passes efficiency savings on to both smallholder farmers and buyers, while ensuring a greater proportion of fresh produce reaches the market.
Founded by John Oroko and Gaita Kariuki in June 2015, the start-up plans to use the grant to further develop the platform and acquire best practices and organic certifications to open up new markets and achieve even better prices for farmers.
“Both Gaita and I saw the challenges faced by our parents so we studied to become engineers and decided to use our knowledge to help farmers. By enabling users to buy seedlings and better equipment, our platform is helping farmers to become self-sufficient,” said Mr Oroko.
“Some of our mango farmers have increased their income by 60 per cent, allowing them to pay for medical bills and their children’s school fees. We also see smallholders investing their money back into the farm to increase yields.”
The solution digitises the entire supply chain without requiring farmers to have access to smart phones or the internet.
Smallholder farmers can register on the platform by dialling a code from their mobile phones. Selina Wamucii then collects data relating to location, produce type, volume and projections to match farmers with the right buyers.
When large-scale exporters place orders, Selina Wamucii sources produce from farmers according to their location.
The company contracts agents to collect and deliver the harvests, as well as to train and monitor registered farmers. More than 3,000 smallholder farmers are registered with the platform. The company said mango farmers who were previously earning Sh10,000 ($100) yearly are now making an average of Sh16,000 ($160).
The grant will also be used to recruit an additional 2,000 farmers to the platform, enabling Selina Wamucii to more than double its acceptance rate for buyers’ requests from the current 2.4 per cent to at least five per cent.