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Using peer-to-peer lending to support smallholder farmers all over the world

I believe the technology exists to make impact-first peer-to-peer lending a powerful force in bettering the world.

Photo of Brian Powell

Written by


The goal: Create a smartphone based platform of 17 apps that gives rural smallholder farmers in the developing world the financial, networking and informational tools they need to maximize the productivity of their farms. The idea: Connect rural farmers with lenders, suppliers, buyers, neighbors and educators via a collection of simple apps that empowers them to easily access the resources they want, when and where they want them. The problem: Approximately 500 million people around the world are smallholder farmers. They include 75% of the world’s poorest people but are also some of its hardest working. We believe that, despite the incredible growth and innovation in other industries, agriculture remains the best opportunity for smallholder farmers to improve their earnings and better their lives.


The primary beneficiaries are smallholder farmers. In addition, by building buying power at the bottom of the pyramid, we will also generate markets for local entrepreneurs. Also, by directly connecting lenders in the 1st world with smallholder farmers in the developing word, we will open their eyes to more of the world's issues and potential.


The two initial countries for implementation are Malawi and Myanmar (Burma). The planting season in Myanmar is May/June and harvest is Oct/Nov. The planting season in Malawi is Oct/Nov and the harvest is May/June.


  • Yes


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


  • Yes, for more than one year.


I am an individual looking for collaborators! I moved to Yangon, Myanmar about six months ago. Before that I lived in Lilongwe, Malawi for 7 1/2 years. There I worked for USAID for 5 years as their General Services Officer. After that I consulted for a meat processor and a fruit processor.

We are working to extend the benefits of using smartphone apps in agriculture to smallholder farmers in developing countries.  The resources available on the internet and in commonly used apps in the first world could significantly increase the profitability of smallholder farmers in developing countries, if the smallholders had access to even a fraction of it.  Unfortunately, there are some significant barriers preventing the resources from getting to the people who stand to benefit from it the most.  First, the information tends to be in English, which is generally useless for the vast majority of smallholders.  Second, the information is spread out all over the internet.  Finding it takes a bit of searching skills, time and bandwidth; all resources in short supply for smallholders.  Third, even if they could locate the information they want, it tends to be in a fairly sophisticated writing style, which, given the generally low functional literacy rate among smallholders, would be incredibly difficult for most to decipher even if it were translated for them.

At i1P2P, our vision is to provide the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers with the resources they want, when and where they want them, in a format they can readily use.  We will do this by developing a platform of seventeen smartphone apps specifically designed for smallholders to use without special training or instruction.  The key components of this design process are:

  • All content will be in the farmer’s language.
  • All content will be in simple, easy to understand writing styles.
  • As much content as possible will be in the form of infographics.
  • All content will meet the standard of being practical, useful and beneficial before it is included.
  • The interface will be user friendly and make the information easily accessible.
  • The apps will use as little bandwidth as practical to keep end user costs to a minimum.

Smartphone enabled peer-to-peer micro-lending

The purpose of the peer-to-peer micro-lending app is to provide farmers with the financial resources they need to maximize the profitability of their farm.  The app will reduce loss of time and money by removing the farmer’s need to travel in search of a loan.  The loans will save the farmers money by reducing their interest rates to 20% APR.  On the average 5 month, $230 loan in Myanmar, this represents a savings of $54.62 which is 3.8% of net earnings for a smallholder farming 7 acres of rice.  The loans will also reduce the farmer’s risks because they will be unsecured loans, meaning the smallholders won’t lose their farm if they can’t pay.  The loans will increase farm productivity by providing the money needed to purchase high quality inputs such as better seed and fertilizer that farmers would otherwise have done without. 

Linking Farmers to Markets

The purpose of the app for linking smallholders with buyers is to improve market efficiency.  By linking farmers with buyers to coordinate buying and selling, the app will increase profits for everyone involved and reduce post-harvest loss.  Farmer’s profits will be increased by ensuring the timely collection of their produce, which has a relatively short shelf life after harvesting.  Buyer’s profits will be increased because they will be able to plan efficient pick up routes and prearrange onward selling.

Linking Farmers to Suppliers

The purpose of the app for linking smallholders with suppliers is also to improve market efficiency.  By aggregating neighboring farmer’s supply orders, the app will give the farmers access to benefits of economies of scale, such as lower bulk prices, reduced transportation cost, and bargaining power.  This app will also give smallholders access to a greater variety and quality of supplies than they would have access to in traditional markets.  The app will also give farmer’s the ability to rate products and vendors, giving them a voice and making their opinions count.

Crop Insurance

The purpose of the crop insurance app is to mitigate the devastating effects of failed crops which can wipe out a family’s meager savings and make them dependent on the good will of others to avoid starvation.  The effects of a single failed crop, both physiologically and financially can drag a smallholder down for years. Crop insurance can simply be built into the loan process to ensure coverage and reduce the risk to both the lender and the borrower. 

Market Information

The purpose of providing market information is to inform farmers of current prices for their products in various local markets so they can make well informed selling decisions and avoid being cheated by shady buyers.  This app will provide farmers with prices for all farm products locally available so they can determine if it would be profitable to diversify into other crops.  It will also enable farmers to track market trends so they can determine the best time to sell their produce or plant a different variety for a slightly different harvest time.


The purpose of the investing app is to provide smallholders with a secure and profitable means of saving their annual earnings until they need the funds.  By giving smallholders the ability to invest their own earnings, a rice farmer who grosses $2,520 on the annual sale of 12 tons of rice from a 3-hectare farm will be able to realize an additional $150 in income over the course of the year.  This alone represents a 10% increase on their net earnings of $1,443.


The purpose of the weather forecasting and reporting app is to provide smallholders with the most accurate weather information possible for them to determine planting and harvesting times.  By encouraging smallholders to report rainfall on their farm, highly accurate local records and tracking will become available.  In the case of abnormal conditions, this reporting will raise early alarms of possible failed crops to mobilize large scale interventions and facilitate timely insurance payouts.  It will also generate accurate localized databases for farmers to track trends and plan future crops.


The purpose of the alert app is to provide farmers with actionable early warnings to mitigate the effects of diseases, pests, severe weather and other emergencies.  By also encouraging smallholders to report crop, animal and even human diseases and pests effecting their family and farm, this app will enable the real-time tracking of outbreaks to facilitate prevention, mitigation and early recovery efforts.

Banking (Digital Financial Services)

The purpose of the banking (Digital Financial Services) app is to extend formal banking services to smallholders, who tend to not have such access locally.  This will give smallholders the options of paying bills electronically, saving for major purchases, setting aside money for school fees, etc.

Personal Finance

The purpose of the personal finance app is to both provide basic budgeting and expense tracking software, as well as to provide basic personal finance education.


The purpose of the buy/sell/trade/borrow app is to improve cooperation and coordination within the smallholder community.  By listing postings based on their distance from the smallholder’s farm, the app will provide smallholders with a wide variety of market options and information not currently available.  Not only will this app enable farmers to post things they have or are looking for, such as breeding stock and seeds, but also enable veterinary service provides and others to post when and where they will be offering services.  The borrowing section will facilitate farmers lending their neighbors tools when needed which will further build the community.

Social Media

The purpose of the social media app will be to connect smallholders with one another and with people involved in the farm value chain outside their local community.  By building a strong online community, the app will encourage the sharing of knowledge, experience, ideas and stories.  It will also give farmers a forum for raising concerns and getting support when needed.  By connecting smallholders with a broader community, they will gain exposure and become an active part of larger conversations.


The purpose of the electronic library app is to provide in-depth information to smallholders who want it.  This app will provide access to a wide variety of subjects that smallholders may be interest in, such as nutrition, first aid, hygiene, solar energy, construction techniques, etc.  If what they are looking for is not available, the app will give smallholders the ability to request information on any subject which will then be translated and added to the library.

Audio and Video Sharing

The purpose of the audio and video sharing app is to enable P2P sharing of best practices.  The app will give smallholders the ability to share their ideas and discoveries with others.  It will also provide a forum for training and education because showing is better than telling when it comes to farm practices.  A smallholder doesn’t need to be able to read or write to learn or teach via video.


The purpose of the reports and statistics app is to provide detailed information to smallholder that want it.  This app will give farmers, vendors, buyers and other value chain players access to the vast amount of statistics currently available and that we will be generating to inform their decision making and business planning.

Local News/Voice

The purpose of the local news app is to give smallholders a voice in reporting stories that are important to them.  This will promote local community cohesion and provide a broader perspective on world events by reporting stories and ideas that otherwise would go unreported.

On-line and Continuing Education

The purpose of the continuing education app is to raise the education level of smallholders by giving everyone the chance to learn at whatever level they are currently at.  This app will provide for foundational education in areas of literacy, math and critical thinking, but also cater for more advanced training in water and sanitation, health, nutrition, advocacy, business, etc.

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Attachments (4)

Power Point Pitch.pptx

Here is a three minute PowerPoint pitch.

User Experience Map.docx

Here are a lender and a borrower's experience maps.


Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about i1P2P.

Concept Brief.pdf

Here is a one page concept brief to share with your friends!


Join the conversation:

Photo of sensheng

This is a good idea Using peer-to-peer lending to support smallholder farmers all over the world. But I think it may be increase the produce prices which may lead to lose the market compare with the traditional farmer market. As most of customer would like the cheap produce. 

Photo of Ozuluonye Shedrack

Hi brain, 

You are doing a great job carry on i will make my input here applicable. hope Nigerians deploys this practice?  

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Shedrack,

My plan is to make i1P2P an Open Value Network available for any human in the world to join, contribute to and benefit from.  To apply for a loan, you just need a smartphone and a small farm. :)

Photo of Anthony Chege

Hi Brian,

This is a great idea and it mirrors one that i have along the same line. The use of mobile applications might not be as effective as in many people in areas you are targeting use feature phones. Perhaps you can consider one part of your idea on savings and loans to use a USSD platform which can be accessed by any phone. We have such a solution which we deploy to Micro finance institutions. This brings me to my next proposal.

If possible, you can get the farmers to have one common block and unite together according to regions. These farmers can then start a table banking model with regular weekly or monthly money contributions for savings. Through this structure, they can also get loan each other. Again, from this groupings, they can be able to get better markets for their rice and also explore options for value addition for their rice.

My concept revolves around coffee in Kenya. The farmer takes the coffee to a cooperative society, then we get all the coffee from that cooperative for marketing. We can then advance cash to the farmer based on what he or she has brought in.

If you would like to engage me further in my line of thinking, do let me know and perhaps we can work together.



Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for reading my posting and contacting me. I’d be happy to work with you on your coffee cooperative project. Cooperatives are a great local solution.

There are a couple of reasons that I am working on a smartphone platform instead of USSD. The first issue is risk. With a smartphone, the farmer can walk the perimeter of their farm to map it on google earth. This will allow anyone offering them a loan to see exactly where the farm is, what size it is and even scroll back through historical satellite images to see what it looked like in the past. This map, combined with pictures of the farmer and the farm as well as phone data, such as exactly where the info was uploaded from and the phone’s identification itself, will make it much more difficult to scam the system.

The second issue is also risk, just from a different angle. There are a lot of illegal crops grown around the world. Here in Myanmar, for example, opium poppies are a huge issue. Where I lived in Malawi it was marijuana. Where I used to live in Ecuador it was coca. Where I grew up in Kentucky it was also marijuana. The last thing I want to do is fund the production of drugs. USSD simply doesn’t provide enough information to remotely determine the risk of illegal crops when processing loan applications.

I know my platform is about five years ahead of the market in Africa, but Africa will catch up. When it does, I will be ready with the platform because I will have tested and proved it in Myanmar where the rice farmers already have smartphones. Of course, I still have to raise the $2.5 million it is going to take to get the apps developed, but that will come.

All the best,


Photo of Malcolm Green

I like the concept Brian, but would have to comment that, from the farmers I have met here in Vietnam, the one's who need the most assistance to get out of poverty, they would not have the facilities or local community networks to work this. My observations are that subsistence farmers (mainly rice growers) are almost entirely dependent on management by local and regional government agencies. Such people have their own agenda and often provide little practical, financial or information support. I feel it would be a very large step for such farmers to embrace your concept. I would much rather see independent marketers and developers get into these areas to provide diversification opportunities, including required finance, in easily understood and implemented agro programs. Vietnam government has recently stated that it would like to see up to 25-30% of rice farmers to diversify into more demand driven profitable products as they (govt) are worried that their fixed price buying, rice stockpiling, selling at reduced international over-supply prices does not give a sufficient return to farmers. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in local farming problems here.

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Malcolm,

Thank you for your feedback!  Do the rice farmers you have worked with in Vietnam use cellphones? Smartphones?  Is your concern that they won't easily adapt to the technology or that they won't easily adapt to working with someone they can't see face-to-face?  I guess what I'm trying to understand is whether your concern is more about the technology or the social interaction.

I would love to hear more about your experiences in Vietnam as it is next door to where I'm working in Myanmar, but still vastly different in many aspects.


Photo of Malcolm Green

While I support the use of technology to build some solutions, I am very wary of focusing on tech in situations where it may  not be effective. In rural Vietnam, while people generally have reasonable access to Smartphones, they almost entirely rely on 1 to 1 practical demonstration to learn things. These are not people who have access, or knowhow to effectively use the internet for learning and are not motivated to do so.
That is why our project to diversify farmers crops & land use proposes establishing local demonstration farms where practical training in all establishment, operational management can be done so farmers return to their farms knowledgeable and ready to participate.
Also,, in most cases, individual farmers are not prepared to operate on a scale to  determine their own markets. There is still a great need for middlemen to develop markets, operate the collective marketing areas need to become effective. This should be separated from the limited government assistance which only covers certain crops like rice, coffee etc, and is always based on a government subsidy price related on often excess product storage and therefore lower international prices. Farmers previously locked into such a system need to  diversify into much more valuable crops that have a high local demand. Greater farm productivity, reduced delivery logistics to market, and very marketable organic produce sets a far greater revenue return to farmers than before.

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Malcolm,

Thank you for your additional feedback! You are one of the few people who responded to me more than once, so thank you and please keep the critical assessment coming. I need it to figure out what problems I need to find solutions for.

I agree with most of your points. Especially the fact that farmers need to diversify into more valuable crops. I also agree that there is a need for middlemen to develop the local markets. I am a huge supporter of entrepreneurs finding local solutions that fit their market.

Where I disagree is in the assumption that local farmers will not adapt to the new technology and take full advantage of it in improving the profitability of their farms. They obviously can’t do that right now because the internet isn’t in their language, they don’t have the skills to surf efficiently and even if they could, the writing level is too far above their education level. I can hardly find the information I’m looking for half the time and I’ve built a website! That is why I intend to make the information farmers need, that is currently on the internet, available to them in a form they can use. I’m not creating any new or revolutionary farming methods or concepts, just making a small part of what is already out there accessible to the people that need it.

I rewrote most of my proposal today, but the main points that I came up with that address your concerns are:

1. All content will be in the farmer’s language.

2. All content will be in simple, easy to understand writing styles.

3. As much content as possible will be in the form of infographics.

4. All content will meet the standard of being practical, useful and beneficial before it is included.

5. The interface will be user friendly and make the information easily accessible.

6. The apps will use as little bandwidth as practical to keep end user costs to a minimum.

I know that is a bit fluffy, but I think it can be used to develop a practical solution to making the information accessible to local farmers.

On a related note, I came across an organization that I thought was interesting and would like to get your opinion on as well:

Thanks again for your feedback!


Photo of Palomy Esnupi

I think my friend can help to make the specific apps for your business. Jeinny Solis and her email is
I think your project is of great value.

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Palomy,

Thank you for Jeinny's contact!  I sent her an email and am looking forward to working with her.

Best regards,

Photo of Fadhila Muhanga

Great Idea..

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Fadhila,

Thank you!  I have been reading through your dissertation.  I'm only about half way through, but would like to have a side conversation with you about the interviews that you did with the smallholder farmers in your study.  I am planning to meet with smallholder farmer groups here in Myanmar and would love your guidance.

Would you like to join my team?

Best regards,

Photo of Fadhila Muhanga

Hello Brian,
Thank you for the reply, I would love to help.  I employ my self in agribusiness sector and I have met a lot of challenges.

Photo of Brian Powell

     The peer-to-peer lending app described above is actually one of 17 apps that we would like to develop and launch as part of a broad smartphone based small holder farm support platform. This platform is going to be user friendly, intuitive and available in every country and in the local languages of the farmers. For the first time in human history, it will be possible for the bottom of the pyramid to leverage powerful resources and knowledge previously only available to the world’s most elite because “virtually all farmers now have access to mobile technologies. Farmers are using this technology to communicate with service providers, colleagues and buyers, and to learn about technology and market opportunities” (Ferris, Robbins, Best, Seville, Buxton, Shirver and Wei, 2014). Our goal is to vastly improve and streamline this access as a means to eradicate poverty. As with all transformative technologies, the key to widespread use and impact is in creating a user friendly interface.

     Smallholder farmers are by no means a homogeneous group. They are spread across virtually every climate and region of the world and the crops they grow and animals they care for depend on their diverse growing conditions. The structural and political environments they work in are also vastly varied. Our plan is not a cookie cutter solution for every farmer’s problems, but rather a platform that empowers farmers to develop their individual solutions through a combination of 17 apps.
     Every farmer will most likely not use every app, nor will they use them in the same ways, but our goal is to give every farmer whatever apps they need to develop their individual farm to its full potential.

The 17 apps are:

1. Market Information – Based on the work of Start Some Good. ( “This project increases the income of over a million Zambian farmers through access to market prices and distribution using mobile technology.”

2. Weather – Local weather information based on the work of Weather Underground. (

3. Alerts – Early warning system based on the work of the World Meteorological Organization as well as crop and animal warnings such as pest and disease outbreaks. (

4. Buyers – A way to link farmers with buyers to reduce post-harvest losses and increase revenues based on the combined work of several organizations. (,,,,,

5. Suppliers – A way for farmers to aggregate their orders for bulk pricing and transportation as well as to select the products they want to purchase beyond what the local market offers.

6. Buy/Sell/Trade – Standard local classified ads on-line (craigslist)

7. Banking – A link to locally available mobile banking services and mobile money, based on the work of M-PESA (

8. Microfinance – Applying the P2P lending model to smallholder farmers. This is the financial engine of the platform that makes it possible to provide the rest for free.

9. Personal Finance – Simple budgeting and planning app for individual use, based on any of the multitude of currently available apps.

10. Investing – A way for small-holder farmers to access the power of compounding interest to grow the revenue from the sale of their produce.

11. Insurance – Crop insurance to mitigate the devastating effects of crop failure, based on the work of the Syngenta Foundation. (

12. Social Networking – Facebook for the smallholder farmer.

13. Electronic Library – Access to books on-line, translated into the local language, based on the work of the Klintaine Public Library’s “Hand in Hand” project. (

14. News – A platform for local people to publish stories that are important to them. An internet based local newspaper for each and every small town and local community to give them a voice.

15. Audio/Video Files – A way to reach the illiterate as well as provide visual learning and learning on the go. (Digital Green, Purdue Phone Videos)

16. Reports and Statistics – Detailed information about their sector (Reuters Lite, Esoko, KIT-Uganda, RATIN, E-Choupals)

17. Continuing Education – Everything from personal hygiene and nutrition to literacy and rocket science. (Brainhoney, Moodle, Lingos, Udemy)

     By leveraging the power of crowd sourcing, we plan to bring together the vast knowledge, practical experience and resources of the NGO, private sector, government and academic worlds to build a platform that empowers the world’s smallholder farmers to escape poverty and contribute to the advancement of humanity around the world.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Brian, you might also like to check out this likeminded idea in the challenge: Croople small holders futures 

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the tip! Croople looks outstanding. I wrote to Maurizio to get more information and connect. Looking forward to working with them.



Photo of OpenIDEO

Great to hear Brian! Also, we've added one more question, "Tell us more about you," to your idea form. To update your post, hit Edit Contribution at the top of your idea. Then scroll down to find the "Tell us more about you entry field" at the bottom of this post. This will help us understand a bit more about you and your organization.

Photo of Brian Powell

Thanks!  I updated it.

Also, please take a look at the Concept Brief that I attached to my contribution and visit the website that I am building at:

Best regards,

Photo of Brian Powell

The actual programming work (as well as concept testing and proving) for this project has already been done thanks to a very generous and forward thinking 501(c)(3) by the name of Zidisha that has been working on this for over 8 years with great success:

Zidisha is an established p2p lending website that focuses on microloans for entrepreneurs in developing countries. The team was nice enough to make the entire framework of their website public so that other organizations can use, modify, or study the code, which took five years to develop.

“As of today, 17 February 2014, we are releasing the source code of our online person-to-person lending platform to the public under a GPLv3 open-source license.
Now, any individual or organization may freely study, copy, modify and use the full source code that makes up the website.”

I want to use their work to reach smallholder farmers. Unlike Zidisha and Kiva however, I plan to  enable the lenders to earn a profit because I believe that Zidisha and Kiva’s one flaw is that they do not make money for their lenders and therefor do not attract capital the way for-profit P2P lenders like Lending Club do. The only way to attract enough capital to really turn things around for 1.5 billion smallholders is to give lenders a way to make money doing it. Generosity and good will just aren’t enough to fill the need. We need to take this concept to the hundred-billion dollar level. That requires a profit making business structure.

Let’s shoot the moon together!


Photo of Palomy Esnupi

I see a lot of potential in your idea. Something else we can do to help?

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Palomy,

Thank you for reaching out to me! There are several ways that you can help:

1. Join the team! Can I add you to the challenge team and sign you up to receive notices of new posts?

2. Spread the word through your social network.

3. Expand the conversation by digging into the 17 apps.

     a. Pick one that really interests you and start the brainstorming process and even volunteer to take the lead on that app’s conversation.

     b. Contribute your ideas on any of the issues and bring up new ones as they come to mind.

     c. Raise the hard questions and help find the creative solutions.

4. Design the pieces that we need to pull it all together.

5. Do research and build our collective knowledge base.

I will post more thoughts on #3-5 separately to give you ideas to get started. There is plenty to do, so pick something that interests you and have fun with it. Be as creative and involved as you want to be!

Looking forward to working with you!

Thanks again,


Photo of Brian Powell

Expand the conversation about each of the 17 apps and other issues:

P2P Lending

What is it?

Who is doing it?

How can we make it work for smallholder farmers?

Market Info

What market information do smallholder farmers want access to?

What is the best way to track and display local, regional and world farm commodity prices?

Local, accurate and useful


Local weather forecasting

Local weather reporting and tracking


How to track and warn farm families about outbreaks/trends in their areas (crop diseases, pests, animal diseases, human diseases)

Natural disasters/Humanitarian Emergencies

Important local, general information

Farm Produce Marketing

How to connect smallholders with their local, regional and world markets

Aggregate selling

Connecting with buyers (exactly when and where products are ready to be collected)

Grading, pricing, packaging

Post-harvest loss reduction

Farm Supply Ordering

Connecting with vendors

Aggregate ordering for bulk discounts and combined transportation

Increasing selection, product education, right thing at the right time


Connecting local farmers with neighbors – think Craig’s list for farmers without vehicles


What options work best under different circumstances?

Cloud banking

Local brick and mortar banks

Mobile banking

Village Savings and Loans


Personal Finance

Personal finance education

Simple expense tracking

Investing by the farmers

How can we give farmers a way to put their money to work after harvest until they need it?

Crop Insurance

Farmers need it, how do we do it?

Networking/local connections

Facebook is great! But a bit bandwidth heavy…
What is a simpler way to connect rural farm communities and ease them into the world?


What books should we make available to smallholder farmers?



Every small town should have a newspaper.

How can we give small towns around the world a way to publish online news that is important to them?

Also, what is the best way to provide rural farmers with access to national, regional and world news that is important to them?

Audio Files

What about people who can’t read?

What about people that want to listen while they work?

What content should we offer?



What reports and statistics should be made available to the local farmers?

What reports and statistics should we compile?

What reports and statistics should be made available to the public?

On-line Education

How can we promote education?

What subjects should we cover?


How do we get all of our content into the local languages?

How do we get all of the local content into our languages?


How much risk should investors take on?


What rules should we establish for lenders?

What rules should we establish for borrowers?


What is a fair rate to charge borrowers?

Should the rates vary? If so, on what grounds?

Nuts to Crack

These are the real headscratchers

New Ideas

Start a conversation about anything that comes to mind. If enough people like it and get involved, we will give it its own page.

Photo of Brian Powell

Design the pieces we need to pull it all together:


Why host a conference?

What is involved?

Who should attend?

How do we recruit people?

How much would it cost?

Who pays for what?

Crowd Funding Campaign

Why crowdfund?

What should our target be?

What should our timeline be?

What kind of campaign?

Platform and Apps

Simple/user-friendly interface

What should it look like?

How should we build it?

Where should we host it?


How do we connect better, with more people?

Who should we connect with?


How can we make this community interaction better?

What should our company’s website include when we launch?

Discussion Board

How can we make our discussion board better?

Logos, Icons, etc

Company name…

Company logo

Icons for the apps

Pictures, backgrounds, visuals

Farmer picture contest (names of people in pictures and their story, place, date, photographer)

Get at least one picture of a farmer in every country in the world

Get pictures of as many crops as possible

Get pictures of as many different ways to farm as possible

Get pictures of as many different farm animals as possible

Oldest farmer

Youngest farmer

Most extreme farmer

Capture attention and tell our story

Promotional Materials

What do we need?

How do we make it?

How do we get the word out?


Tell our story

Tell our customer’s stories

Explain our product/concept/dream

TED Talk

Just cause it would be cool


What, where, why and how?

Rating System

Members vote?

Membership Structure

How do we want our community to be structured?

Small groups?

Business Model

We have a basic idea about what we want to accomplish, now we just have to figure out how to do it…

Translation System



Hire a person in every country for every language? That would be something like 1600 people just in India…

Photo of Brian Powell

Research and build our collective knowledge base:

Book and publication reviews

List books/publications by title, author, subject, highest rated, etc.

Members can add new entries and comment on existing entries

Provide brief summary of book

What I liked

What I didn’t like

My takeaways

General discussion

Members vote like/dislike book/publication

Website Reviews



Statistics at a glance

What we can learn

How we can work together

How we can connect

Member vote like/dislike

NGO directory

Who they are (name, website, size)

What they do

Where they work

What we can learn

How we can work together

How we can connect

Member vote like/dislike

Business directory
Who they are (name, website, size)

What they do

Where they work

What we can learn

How we can work together

How we can connect

Member vote like/dislike

Government/Ministry/Department directory

Who they are (name, website, size)

What they do

Where they work

What we can learn

How we can work together

How we can connect

Private donor directory

Who they are (name, story)

What they do

Who they work with

What we can learn

How we can work together

How we can connect

Professionals, Academics and Political Figures directory

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Photo of Havi Murungi

Brian, P2P lending is alive and well in Kenya through what we call 'chamas' which are informal groups of people who pool their cash and may lend to a member or more commonly invest as a group. As such, your idea would not be alien in many parts of the developing world. I am aware that P2P lending smooths out income volatility of many households and in Kenya in particular, mobile phone-based money transfer services makes this widely possible. The trick would be how to leverage these practices in the context of this challenge. As Shane suggests, there may be other entries exploring this idea so a look at them may inspire other thoughts.

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Havi,

Thanks for your feedback! Can I ask you for some information about how the “chamas” work? What kind of savings and lending rates are common? What is the range of loan sizes? What are the terms of a typical loan? (Size, length, payment terms) Are they secured or unsecured? Meaning, does the farmer lose anything if they fail to repay the loan?

I have been enjoying reading through the other entries. As you pointed out, there are a lot of great ideas being posted! One that I would recommend everyone take a look at is “Reap Benefit – DIY mobile app platform for personalized innovations in sanitation and water.” It is in the refinement stage of the Water and Sanitation Challenge, so I’m sure they would welcome our support.

While the issue they are addressing is very different from this challenge, their concept and approach is totally transferable to our challenge.

Thanks again for your feedback!


Photo of Havi Murungi

Chama terms vary so much since they range from very informal groupings to significant investment firms with IPOs on security exchanges. For example, lending rates can be zero or more, amounts can be as small as USD 10 to much more and membership can be as small as half a dozen people to a 2-3 dozen. Loans are secured against contributions and "social capital."

Photo of Ozuluonye Shedrack

Hi, Brain Powell you have a point here only that peer to peer lending exist in my location and is designed to reduce the likelihood of default' from farmers by particularly Micro-finance bank in Nigeria. 

However the ability of its acceptability in practice has 
Has been commendable by both farmers and Micro finance banks. 
The way farwad is to this idea to suite other communities in the world. 

Photo of Brian Powell

Hi Shedrack,

I’m glad to hear that peer-to-peer lending is taking place in your location. That will make expanding its use a lot easier. I take it from your comment that the current P2P model connects lenders and borrowers who are both local community members?

I would like to take it to the next level by connecting your local borrowers with the lending capital of the US and UK P2P lending markets billions of dollars of P2P loans are funded every years.

I want to connect the multi-billion dollar P2P lending capital of the west with the microloan needs of the developing world. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no rural farmers have to waste time and resources searching for capital because it will be readily available via their phone at a low interest rate and without any risk of losing their farm if/when crops fail.

Leveraging the exponential growth of the P2P lending industry to meet the capital needs of smallholder farmers worldwide is possible! Let’s make it happen!