For many low-volume Kenyan farmers, the only source of information about the market rate for crops comes from the very people who are trying to buy them. The lack of pricing transparency means that farmers don’t always get the best deal. MFarm seeks to solve this by providing up-to-date market prices via an app or SMS, direct to farmers. It also connects farmers with buyers directly, cutting out the middlemen.
MFarm’s CEO is Jamila Abass, a 29-year-old computer scientist from Kenya. She founded mFarm in 2010 after reading about how farmers have been “oppressed for decades and disconnected in terms of information”.
Abass and her team developed a tool which allows farmers to receive information relating to the retail price of their products – updated daily with information for 42 crops sold in 5 markets. But as they were doing this, they realised that there might be another problem.
They discovered that the root of the problem was not price transparency but the fact that farmers are producing in low volume and that many buyers in big cities don’t want the hassle of getting the volume they need from multiple different farmers. This led MFarm into offering a group-selling tool, which gets farmers to team up to bring produce to certain drop off points. They then send an SMS to the system promoting what they have to sell.
MFarm is a for-profit organisation, taking a transaction fee for every deal done using its platform. Thanks to mobile connectivity, the number of users who are benefiting from greater market insights and flexibility has grown from 2,000 (in early 2012) to 7,000 (in 2016).
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