How the Journey of providing a holistic approach to ending poverty for African farmers started.
Founded in 2017, the idea of Agro Supply came from the vision to reimagine the way smallholder farmers in Africa were repaying their loans, Agro Supply was founded by Ogwal Joseph, who has worked in Uganda and Kenya with smallholder farmers for more than 5 years, developing a repayment plan for smallholder farmers before starting the company.
Right now, the annual financing need for all the smallholder farmers in the world, if they could have the right amount of financing to invest in their fields, would be about $200 billion. Only a quarter of that is being met currently.
Credit is pretty limited in its reach when it comes to smallholder farmers. Agro Supply is addressing the gap in the market for financial services suited to the needs of smallholder farmers. We work with smallholder farmers in Uganda and East Africa (over 45% women), who are mostly locked out of microcredit and government lending programs and are not able to easily purchase seeds and fertilizer.
Without the means to purchase high-quality seed and fertilizer during planting time, farmers harvest 20-30% of their land’s crop production potential, keeping them from increasing their incomes. As long as farming families are unable to balance their resources throughout the year, they will always face the problem of sustainably providing for their families’ basic needs and loan financing.
Financial tools are simply not designed to help smallholder farmers save money when they have it. Farmers’ income at harvest time runs out by the time they need cash the most during planting time for seed, fertilizer, and other farming inputs. When farmers do have cash, they tend to spend it down over the year instead of prioritizing farm investments that they won’t need until months later.
This behavioral loop doesn’t help them break the cycle of poverty each season they are left looking for cash to purchase seeds or fertilizer and often times plant with poor quality inputs that result in low farm yield. Smallholder farmers produce 70% of the world’s food. With agriculture regarded as unprofitable, rural areas are losing young farmers to urban migration.
Meanwhile, global population is rising which requires 60% more food to feed nine billion people by 2050. Farmers can be and should be a key part of the solution. If farmers are able to manage their cash and invest their own resources in their farms, they will not only increase food production, they will also pave their own and their families’ way out of poverty, with access to a mobile savings tool, we know farmers can self-finance the inputs and training they need to provide for their families and to break the cycle of poverty.