__A case study: from vision to provision.
Zimbabwe has approximately 1.5m smallholder farmers. Almost 1m are registered with a platform called EcoFarmer which we launched in 2013. Through this platform, we interact with farmers on a daily basis with one objective: How do we make them more profitable in an increasingly digital world?
We help our farmers with information on markets, inputs, financing, skills, and weather. We are always looking for ways to offer services through “smart-techs” which cover everything from insurance, to banking, to data services, and more.
Every part of this business, including our solar power solutions, is aimed at servicing our farmers and people living in rural areas.
Our services to Zimbabwe’s rural farmers generate, directly and indirectly, more than $150m in revenue in Econet Group revenue.
We have only just started. The “digitalization” revolution is enabling us to #Re-ImagineRural entrepreneurship and identify ways to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers whilst doing good business. It’s up to you!
For us, it did not happen by accident. It was a deliberate business strategy, which we executed quietly, efficiently and effectively. It is not a government platform, and each farming family joined the platform totally voluntarily.
Just a couple of months ago, we launched the EcoFarmer Club, where our members get a bundle of different services including a mobile trading platform that allows them to sell their crops to buyers using a basic mobile phone. #Processesare still in progress to ensure grading quality standards are win-win for all.
The platform also enables our farmers to check and compare market prices for 37 commodities over 30 municipal markets across Zimbabwe! This helps to protect them from people who might try to convince them to sell their products at lower-than-market prices…
EcoFarmer Club members also get exclusive discounts on farming inputs like fertilizer, animal health products, seeds, stock feeds, farming tools, poultry supplies, and more. Our local #Partnershelp make all of this possible.
EcoFarmer is part of a subsidiary of Econet called Cassava SmarTech, which includes other services such as EcoCash, EcoSure, EcoHealth, Ownai (mobile eCommerce) and Cassava On Demand Services (formerly Cumii Technologies). Cassava SmarTech is set to be listed separately in a few weeks. I will be writing more about this in the days ahead.
Now that we have our business model working, we have identified key African markets where it will be scaled!
As you look at this EcoFarmer case study, here are some principles I want you to remember:
#1. We reached out to solve a problem with what we had in our hands.
#2. We re-imagined and re-engineered existing products and services to make them accessible to smallholder farmers.
#3. We scaled through skilled and talented#people, #processes, and continue to develop#products. We have a pipeline of innovations aimed at making EcoFarmer the most important platform for African smallholder farmers.
One day it will be a billion dollar “unicorn” that could be spun off and listed on a major exchange. Why not?!
To be continued. . .