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MoBFiT

MoBFIT is a robust GSM enabled agriculture supply chain software and mobile market place that is directly connecting 20M farmers to buyers.

Photo of Batte Charles

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

The Problem: 66% of the working population in Uganda are involved in Agriculture (2013 statistical abstract). Majority are in rural areas and face challenges like high transport and communication costs as they seek market for their products. Market for produce is sought only when it is out of the garden, the perishability of the agricultural produce undermines the farmers’ bargaining power because they are on a countdown to sell before the produce goes bad - they end up selling to the first customer or to the exploitative middleman at a low cost affecting profitability. Farmers are thus unable to pay back loans, lose their property to moneylenders thus making agriculture very risky. The farmer is usually a price taker, instead of a price maker – regardless of his investment. Solution: MoBFIT is a robust GSM supported agricultural supply chain software that is directly connecting 20M smallholder rural farmers to buyers in the market at a low cost via SMS, and automated voice call technology, before harvest. A farmer sends a text message with information about his/her produce to our short code, our system generates a unique identification number for them. We receive offers from buyers, filter out for who is paying the highest for a particular produce, we then connect these buyers directly to the farmers. Our farmers are happy because they can negotiate prices before harvest, are paid upon delivery and our buyers have time to plan and get their produce on harvest day.

WHO BENEFITS?

Nassanga is a 20 year old single mother in Katiiti Village, Mpigi district. She owns a 2 acre farm from which she accrues money for her livelihood and supports her child. She travels 20km each day spending about USD 2 to Buwama market uncertain that there will be customers for her products. Over 20M farmers face this same marketing dilemma affecting their profitability and progress. Our solution reduces their marketing cost by 85%, enhances their bargaining power and broadens their market.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

We are implementing this idea in Uganda, with plans to scale to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

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

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

We are based in Uganda. Our team (Charles, Gideon, Winnie, Jovial) is diverse yet so compatible, combining varied backgrounds, skills and experiences; with training support from Affinis Lab, TEEP, and GIST to harness its potential while furthering each member’s social entrepreneurial development.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

MoBFiT is our company's core idea. We have worked on this idea for the past 18 months. Iteratively engaging our beneficiaries and relying on their feedback to continue refining the idea. Our vision is to employ cutting-edge technology to link small-holder farmers to the market. We identified this aspect of the agricultural value chain as our area of specialisation as a company. Our mission is to digitise the agricultural supply chain, bring the farmer closer to the consumers ensuring that the farmers are benefitting from their produce and are not exploited by middle-men. We believe that by easing the farmer's access to the market, we not only help them increase their profitability but we also reduce food wasted as it gets spoilt when farmers are waiting for customer. Our solution thence mitigates food wastage as well as an added benefit. It is the realisation of these added benefits that MOBFiT creates for the small holder farmer that has us committed to fully develop this idea full time and avoid any other distraction. As thus MOBFiT is our only idea and we are fully committed to it.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Majority of tech solutions currently available that connect farmers to the market are applications supported on smart phones, which farmers do not have or use the more expensive USSD technology. We have identified that gap in this market place and decided to develop a solution that is supported on the most basic GSM mobile phone that majority of our rural farmers posses. This broadens our addressable market and ensures we reach out to those farmers that are most affected by this problem. Our solution applies basic API technology that allows a farmer to interact directly with a platform providing an interface for buyers by simply sending a text via SMS to a designated short code number. The system is configured to create an auto-display on the interface with support from a system administrator when a farmer requests for it. We track farmer locations by GPS which enables us to cluster produce based on communities, districts and regions-this means even a farmer that produces so little benefits as our system encourages them to pool produce.Clustering provides important data for some of our customer segments (Government and NGO's) about total food production in a region, food wastage.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

Our team is diverse yet so compatible, with varied backgrounds, skills, experiences; we seek opportunities to harness its potential while furthering each member’s development. A close knit-group of associates working together as one coherent team. We believe we have the commitment, passion and experience to deliver. We all work full time. Charles Batte - Team lead Jovial Nanfuka - Finance Kiiza Gideon - Marketing Nsereko Vincent - Business development Patricia Kalungi - Tech Developer

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

During our customer discovery process we met with 350 small holder farmers in groups from 10 villages. We learnt that what was common among them was their desire to work together - possibly an idea that developed from their own engagements with cooperative societies. They suggested that if we identified households that they could supply regularly with basic farm produces including tomatoes, onions, bananas... they would work together planting various items as a team to produce what the households require. This means a ready market for them and introduces concepts of contract farming to this dispensation. As thus we adjusted our model and included individual households as a customer segment. We have gone ahead to meet individual household heads in gated communities to share with them the idea and have already signed up 85 new households in 5 days.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

As we interacted with the small holder farmers during our customer discovery process we learnt that one of the reasons as to why they have no bargaining power over the price is because otherwise they would have no means of transporting their produce to the market. They constantly asked us to address this as well. This raised the question of transporting farm produce from the farms to the markets. Our big question at the moment is whether we should partner with truck owners or transport companies to make the deliveries or we should develop our own transport systems as the farmers requested. We are back in our design lab, debating and discussing the feasibility of this as a team.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

Smallholder farmers are usually looked at as a risk by investors and business men. They are largely subsistent farmers who produce so little to sustain a market. They are looked at, as illiterate people who haven't embraced technology fully, hold outdated phones and are unreceptive towards new trends. As thus they are often neglected in technology designs for agriculture. We have had the opportunity to visit them and experience life in their communities, we have seen then accept, learn and use mobile money technology, communicate by SMS technology. We believe that by aggregating their produce, tracked by GPS on their GSM phones they can have a reasonable amount of produce to sustain markets.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

When markets aren’t properly organised losses in mangoes, oranges and pawpaw crops reach 80% of total production (Ugandan Farmers Federation). Post-harvest losses for corn, bananas and beans reach 40% (FAO). This loss of potential income contributes to food insecurity and undernutrition among smallholder farming families. Our vision is to reverse this trend by digitising the supply chain. We will recruit 25 million customers to provide niche markets for 10 million on our platform in 3 years.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within in 500 km of where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MoBFIT (Mobile agri-Business Financial Information Tool) is a robust GSM supported agricultural supply chain management software and mobile market place that directly connects farmers to buyers at a low cost via SMS technology. A farmer sends a text message with information about his/her produce to our short code number, our system generates a unique identification number for them. We receive offers from buyers and filter out for who is paying the highest for a particular produce, we then connect these buyers directly to the farmers. Our farmers are happy because they can negotiate prices before harvest, are paid upon delivery and our buyers have time to plan and get their produce on harvest day. Our solution reduces the cost of marketing by 85%, enhances farmers’ bargaining power to get the best prices for their produce and broadens their market and eliminates the dependence on exploitative middlemen. 

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Spam
Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Interesting idea, Batte! How long has your company been working on this? Have you guys developed a working prototype? If so, could you tell us a little more about it in the 'Explain Your Idea' section? Looking forward to reading more! 

Spam
Photo of Batte Charles
Team

Thank you so much Chioma, We have been working on this for 18 months now ( 1 year and 6 months) our prototype is being tested first on the consumer's end at the moment and we are continuously developing and improving it based on the feedback we get. I have noticed I did not say much about the idea in the Explain your Idea section - Thank you so much for that.

I have added/edited my contribution there. If you have a minute please take a look at it and let me know if it answers your question sufficiently. I would have wished to say more but limited by the character limit.in Brief>

How it works:
A farmer sends a text message with information about his/her produce to our short code, our system generates a unique identification number for them. We receive offers from buyers, filter out for who is paying the highest for a particular produce, we then connect these buyers directly to the farmers. Our farmers are happy because they can negotiate prices before harvest, are paid upon delivery and our buyers have time to plan and get their produce on harvest day.

Spam
Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi! This is very helpful, thank you! We try to keep the submission fields short, so that they include the most important information about the ideas, so thanks for making the edits! Is this just the 'Explain Your Idea' section that you find doesn't have enough space? It would be nice if somewhere in the body you could indicate that you have been working on this for the last 1.5 years as well as the last paragraph that explains your idea as people might miss this in the comments, but it's really helpful information! Thanks!

Spam
Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi! This is very helpful, thank you! We try to keep the submission fields short, so that they include the most important information about the ideas, so thanks for making the edits! Is this just the 'Explain Your Idea' section that you find doesn't have enough space? It would be nice if somewhere in the body you could indicate that you have been working on this for the last 1.5 years as well as the last paragraph that explains your idea as people might miss this in the comments, but it's really helpful information! Thanks!

Spam
Photo of Batte Charles
Team

Thank you so much Chioma.

I have added these to my submission. I have included the time we have worked on the idea in the "is this a new idea to your company" section and included the paragraph that explains the idea and how it works in the "explain your Idea" section. This is very helpful feedback Chioma. Thank you.

Be blessed and keep smiling.

Spam
Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Thank you! 

Spam
Photo of Batte Charles
Team

Hullo Chioma, Hope this finds you well. I have been attempting to complete the challenge survey in vain. The link does not take me to the survey. Could you please let me know how I can go about this. Do we need to upload all feedback we got from customers we interviewed? there is only provision to upload experience map.

Thanks

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