A Kenyan mobile platform that shortens the agricultural supply chain, reducing food wastage and boosting farmers’ incomes, has received USD 100,000 grant from global social impact programme Expo Live which is run by organisers of the next World Expo, Expo 2020 Dubai.
The company, known as Selina Wamucii, will use the Expo Live grant to further develop its mobile platform and to acquire best practice and organic certifications to open up new markets and achieve even better prices for farmers.
The grant will also be used to recruit an additional 2,000 farmers to the platform, enabling Selina Wamucii to more than double its acceptance rate for buyers’ requests from the current 2.4 per cent to at least 5 per cent.
The good news come at a time when it is known that some 60 per cent of food produced by smallholder farmers in Africa never reaches the market due to supply chain inefficiencies. Selina Wamucii’s mobile platform aims to improve the agricultural supply chain by enabling buyers and exporters to source fresh produce directly from smallholder farmers, even without access to the internet.
Founded in June 2015 by John Oroko and Gaita Kariuki, both of whom were born and raised in smallholder families, the company is named after the co-founders’ mothers.
By shortening the supply chain, Selina Wamucii’s mobile platform passes efficiency savings on to both smallholder farmers and buyers, while ensuring a greater proportion of fresh produce reaches the market.
Oroko said: “Both Gaita and I saw the challenges faced by our parents so we studied to become engineers and decided to use our knowledge to help farmers. By enabling users to buy seedlings and better equipment, our platform is helping farmers to become self-sufficient.
“Some of our mango farmers have increased their incomes by 60 per cent, allowing them to pay for medical bills and their children’s school fees. We also see smallholders investing their money back into the farm to increase yields.”
The solution digitises the entire supply chain without requiring farmers to have access to smart phones or the internet. Smallholder farmers can register on the platform by dialling a code from their mobile phones. Selina Wamucii then collects data relating to location, produce type, volume and projections to match farmers with the right buyers.
When large-scale exporters place orders, Selina Wamucii sources produce from farmers according to their location. The company contracts agents to collect and deliver the harvests, as well as to train and monitor registered farmers.
More than 3,000 smallholder farmers are registered with Selina Wamucii. The company said mango farmers who were previously earning USD 100 per year are now making an average of USD 160 per year.
Expo Live is Expo 2020 Dubai’s innovation and partnership programme and has an allocation of USD 100 million to back projects that offer creative solutions to pressing challenges that impact people’s lives or help preserve the planet – or both. Organisers are looking for projects that would not reach their full potential without its support.
Launched in January 2017, Expo Live has several programmes. The flagship global Innovation Impact Grant Programme provides up to USD 100,000 per successful initiative, to be made available incrementally as the project meets ongoing conditions. Projects are also supported with business guidance and promotion, and may have the chance to showcase their work to many millions of visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Yousuf Caires, Vice President – Expo Live at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Selina Wamucii addresses all of Expo 2020 Dubai’s subthemes – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – by enhancing opportunities for farmers, reducing food waste by improving access to fresh produce, and contributing to a more sustainable agricultural industry.”
He continued: “Expo Live is based on a firm belief that innovation can come from anywhere to everyone. This is a major component of our redefinition of what a World Expo can and should do: tap into its convening power well before the event to enable problem-solvers around the globe to promote innovation and build partnerships that leave a lasting legacy not only in the UAE and the region but across the world.”
Selina Wamucii is the latest Kenyan project to benefit from Expo Live, after Eco Fuels Kenya, a start-up that is using oil from the nuts of croton trees to produce energy, received a grant during the programme’s first cycle.
Expo 2020 Dubai will take place from 20 October, 2020 to 10 April, 2021 and will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. It will be a festival of human ingenuity that gives a glimpse into the future, guided by its three pillars: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.
To date, Expo Live’s Innovation Impact Grant Programme has attracted more than 2,300 applicants from 136 countries. Following a rigorous evaluation process, which included live presentations in Dubai, 70 grantees from 42 countries have joined Expo Live’s community of Global Innovators, including these new members from the third cycle.