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I am passionate about:
Women smallholder farmers, mobile technology and food!
Show my name on the attendees list for events I am attending:
Founder and CEO, Markit Opportunity
"It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela"
Social entrepreneur. Kenya Premier League basketball player. Foodie. Former Kiva Fellow.
My background is in Business and Economics with degrees from Brown University and IE Business School. I am fervently committed to women microentrepreneurs - with a focus on microfinance and agricultural trading. Women are the backbones of society and should have equal opportunities to participate in economies and markets. I now live in Kenya, where I have launched a trading platform that is easy for women to use and adds value to supply chains.
We just had a partnership finalize. A female-owned, impact-driven distribution company in Kenya has asked us to be a preferred supplier. This is a big milestone for us, given that her technology solution has the potential to integrate with ours. She delivers to hotels, schools, restaurants and individual retail clients.
Women supporting women, supporting women farmers.
(Also, the supermarket that buys from us is run by a woman).
Thanks again for the feedback. We have looked at these areas in-depth over the past few months and believe there is a sustainable approach to this problem!
(1) For more details about our product cycle, please see the video and edited description above.
(2) Transportation is a key concern in providing opportunities for income improvement to smallholder farmers. Anyone who can buy or rent a truck to conduct deliveries are usually wealthy and can have a lot of power in the agricultural supply chain. That said, one also needs trusted relationships and real-time market information to execute profitable trades (due to risk of spoilage and price volatility).
One of our target customers, the wholesale trader, usually does not own a vehicle (instead they focus on procurement and selling). Currently, when we deliver to a trader who does not have transport, we organize the transport by calling a trusted SME or an owner of transport vehicles to conduct the delivery. Our agent then accompanies that vehicle to our users' destination. For example, when we deliver to our supermarket the process looks like this: supermarket employee sends an SMS with the quantity they want. We take the market price at the farms, add our fees, add the known transportation fee and quote the supermarket with that total price. When they accept, we start the trading process by informing and organizing the farmer, agent and transporter through our platform. The supermarket then pays on arrival. We believe the future of our platform will be to organize these types of logistics on behalf of wholesaler traders, replacing the middleman. We also know that these organized trades at scale are viable -- as we have executed profitable trades this way, even at our small scale.
Our buyers provide warehousing for themselves. We offer a first-step in processing by sorting and grading. Trading is our core competency, but we know the value to farmers is being able to add value to their commodities. We are already exploring partnership opportunities to organizations that would like to offer these services to farmers to improve their offerings before they sell.
Just to clarify, we do not *just* offer information access to farmers, we offer market opportunities. By facilitating trades and organizing logistics better than a small business can, we improve efficiency in trades to earn farmers more income.
(3) The current trading practices have a farmer, a broker and a wholesale trader. We see wholesale traders use brokers (when they can own/rent a truck). That broker is used in the vast majority of trades with farmers. The broker is limited in their knowledge of real-time supply outside of their locale, which makes them useful only in a certain area. That broker, makes money in two ways:
a) they charge traders a standard facilitation fee b) (sometimes) they quote farmers a lower price than the market price. If the trader is willing to pay the market price, the broker earns the difference. Essentially they take income directly from farmers.
Markit Opportunity and its agents replace the role of the broker. Markit Opportunity uses technology to replace price negotiation through a broker. We have agents to replace facilitation of trading. Because we organize users and price negotiations, we can charge traders a similar fee and have lower costs than a broker.
Next year, we will go one step further and offer an extension of our service as a plug-and-play platform to NGOs that support large groups of organized smallholder farmers. Agent costs will be reduced in this instance as we will train Field Officers from these NGOs to register farmers and facilitate some aspect of trading. We have already co-authored an EU grant application with an established NGO to offer this evolution of our product to 3,000 smallholder farmers in Central Kenya.
Hope that helps! We will take any more feedback if you have it.