NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of smallholder farmers in the region are set to benefit from a digital platform connecting them to agents, buyers and banks in East Africa.
Launched by Mastercard, 2KUZE, as the platform is known, is the latest offering in the region hailed as the cradle of African technology innovation.
2KUZE, which in Swahili means “Let’s grow together,” enables farmers to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via their feature phones.
The platform launched at the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi brings the benefits and security of mobile commerce and payments to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Through an $11 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the lab is working with East African entrepreneurs, governments and other stakeholders to develop local products rooted in the company’s global knowhow.
In the initial pilot, 2KUZE is being launched in partnership with Cafédirect Producers Foundation, a non-profit organization working with 300 000 smallholder farmers globally.
Currently, 2 000 small-scale farmers in Nandi Hills, Kenya are currently using the solution to sell their produce and working with farmer-friendly agents to ensure they reach the right buyers for the best price.
Daniel Monehin, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa and head of financial inclusion for International Markets at Mastercard, says 80 percent off farmers in Africa are classified as smallholder farmers having less than 1-2 acres of farming land, making it difficult to drive growth and prosperity within this community.
“We believe that by using mobile, a technology that is so ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, we can improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments. The collaboration between the Lab team and farmers in the market helped to deliver a solution that can be implemented and make an impact without any major changes to the day-to-day.”
2KUZE makes transacting much safer and simpler for all stakeholders in the agricultural supply chain – the farmer, the buyer and the agent. Farmers using 2KUZE can conduct the entire transaction of selling produce and receiving payments via their feature phones, without having to walk for hours to the markets.
This enables farmers to capture a greater percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency, more direct access to buyers and empowerment of farmer-friendly agents.
This solution in particular supports women farmers, who often have household duties that prevent them from leaving the farm gate and are more often subject to having to take whatever deal is given to them on the day.
It is one of several broad-based collaborations on which the Mastercard Lab, established to contribute to the company’s global commitment to connect 500 million people to formal financial services through the use of public-private partnerships with governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations.
– CAJ News