Introduction: Selina Wamucii is a Kenyan based social enterprise that has created a mobile phone-driven sourcing platform for produce from marginalized smallholder communities including farmers, pastoralists and fishermen in Africa’s rural areas. Selina Wamucii has grown steadily since starting in June 2015, already impacted the lives of over 5000 smallholders in Kenya. In January 2019, the London Stock Exchange Group named Selina Wamucii as a company to Inspire Africa.
The challenge: Up to 50% of produce from Agricultural smallholder communities in rural areas across Sub-Saharan Africa never reaches the markets due to inefficient supply chains. The produce goes to waste, and is the reason smallholders remain poor!
How we are addressing the challenge: Through a mobile phone driven platform for smallholders in rural areas. This innovation digitizes the agricultural sourcing value chain by reducing existing pain points, effectively improving market access and increasing incomes for the smallholders.
The main strength of our innovation is the utilization of mobile technology to shorten and transform the agricultural supply chain while passing the benefits of an efficient chain to the farming, pastoralists and fishing communities.
Our vision is to become the go-to platform for smallholder produce, an inclusive platform that promotes prosperity by empowering smallholders/pastoralists to earn sustainable incomes.
Background: Over 500 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in severe poverty, below a dollar a day. 70-80 of the continent's population work in Agriculture, including millions of smallholders who account for 80% of all produce in the region. For example, Nairobi alone is estimated to have a fruits and vegetables market value of $200 million - $300 million a year. (Source: USAID “The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Markets of East Africa”). But there is still a lot of food that goes to waste because the existing ways of sourcing produce from smallholders are inefficient and costly due to the fragmented nature of the small farms. Given these challenges, a huge volume of high quality smallholder food is always either left to waste away in farms or lost during transit to markets. As a result, it is estimated that up to 50% of Africa’s smallholder produce is not reaching markets. It means that smallholder farmers are losing up to 50% of their potential annual income. This is a huge problem across the developing world and is the reason why smallholder communities continue to live in severe poverty yet they work hard.
Amidst these challenges, demand for Africa's smallholder produce across markets worldwide continues to grow rapidly. While the smallholders’ current production and capacity is sufficient to match this demand and contribute to zero hunger, the current value chains are unreliable and therefore incapable of efficiently sourcing ready smallholder produce and ensuring it reaches markets in good time, quality and pricing. Logistics are uncoordinated, prices are inflated, information is scarce/ inaccurate and the value chain is generally void of transparency.
Without sustainable solutions, smallholders are not able to meet the quality standards. International buyers from around the world, for instance, require high production standards that ensure safe and sustainable agricultural practices. Medium and large-scale farmers have an edge over smallholder farmers as it is easier to monitor proper production practices of larger farms. Acquiring internationally certified standards is a costly and challenging process for small-scale communities. Also, smallholders face a great agronomical gap. Other issues that smallholders face are the insufficient availability of market information and poor infrastructure. Many farmers are dependent on local brokers due to limited market linkage and the perishable nature of fresh produce. Consequently, these intermediaries take advantage of the situation and force farmers to sell their produce for a low price.
New members join by dialing our unique number (USSD code) from their mobile phone through which their details are sent securely to the platform.
The smallholders' data is mapped out into farm location, produce type and projected volumes.This makes it efficient to source from the smallholders and enables us to design optimal collection routes. Through updated production reports, the platform makes it possible to determine whether market demands can be met. These reports also take into account the potential farm-level challenges that the smallholders can possibly face (e.g. adverse weather conditions, poor soil health, disease outbreaks, access to water, poor inputs).
(iii) Mobile Money
Payments via mobile phone are integrated into the system from where the smallholders are paid automatically through mobile money (MPESA ). The integration of mobile payments guarantees that payments are safe and instant, enabling the smallholders o attend to their urgent needs.
Once the produce from each smallholder is keyed into the system, a traceability code is generated on the spot. This effectively tackles the traceability issue of small-scale producers, as each supply chain actor can track and trace the produce with 100% accuracy. Additionally, this ensures that buyers are confident and the smallholders are given a fair price for their produce.
As many value chain challenges (e.g. difficulties to meet quality standards, long sourcing times, lack of trust/transparency and high post-harvest losses) are effectively combated within the platform, our innovation provides a sustainable opportunity for rural communities through which they are able to improve their economic status. This will contribute to zero hunger.
Impact: 5000+ beneficiaries
Up to date, the innovation has impacted the lives of 5561 smallholders across Kenya, from farmers to pastoralists and fishing communities. Their produce has accessed markets around the world including the Middle East and Europe. Their incomes have increased by at least 60% on average.
We have inspired rural communities and buyers
Our solution has inspired smallholders who now enjoy the benefits that come by utilizing the power of technology. They are confident of a future where technology will be central to increasing their incomes and effectively transform their lives. Buyers in markets, on the other hand, are confident to buy from Africa’s smallholder farmers because they trust the quality and know that whenever they buy through Selina Wamucii, they contribute directly to transforming the smallholders' lives.
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