Improving Productivity and Profitability of smallholder farmers in developing countries

Integrated digital platform with an end-to-end solution for agricultural value chain inefficiencies for impoverished smallholder farmers

Photo of Usman Javaid
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Ricult Inc.

Year founded

2015

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 500 - 1,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Location(s) of impact

Pakistan: Sheikhupura, Dipalpur, Muridke, Kasur, Khudian
Thailand: Saraburi, Lopburi

Website

http://www.ricult.com

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/contactricult/

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/contact_ricult

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

513 million farms around the world are owned and operated by families – most by smallholder family farmers that live on less than $2 a day and have limited access to markets, services, and information to optimize their crop cycle from sow to sale and rise out of poverty (FAO, 2017). These farmers are often exploited, being sold low quality seeds and other resources, receiving below market prices for their harvest, and getting only inaccessible or expensive credit.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We offer an integrated digital platform with an end-to-end solution for agricultural value chain inefficiencies. The 4 major components are:
1)Input Marketplace- allows farmers to buy high quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides
2)Data Analytics Dashboard - offers farmers real time information about the health of their crops, weather data & pest alerts
3)Output Platform - connects farmers directly to buyers, improving their profitability
4)Credit - farmers can buy quality inputs on credit, that's affordable & convenient.

Very simply put, we are in the business of improving smallholder farmer productivity and profitability. With one platform we have catered to deal with every major hurdle that negatively affects either. By working with the farmer from before sowing till sale of harvest, we have managed to ensure there are gains for them on every step. The more profitable and productive our customers become, the stronger we become as a company.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

"Those who feed us, need us." Ricult helps smallholder farmers increase their productivity and profitability. Short-term, this increases their income and agricultural lifecycle. Long term, this empowers farmers to:
1) become economic actors
2) pull themselves out of poverty
3) create local job opportunities

In Pakistan alone, we have made the following impact to date:

- 616 farm families served
- 18 part-time rural jobs created
- 7 full-time rural jobs created
- 40% increase in farmer income

Percentage of farmers that repay their loans is a key metric for sustainability and profit). In Pakistan, Crop Cycle 1 had 40% repayment, 2 had 60%, and 3 had 100%.

Our model also enables farmers to be precise with application of nutrients and water, thus reducing nutrient pollution and water use. So far, farmers have used Ricult’s dashboard to reduce synthetic agricultural input usage by 16%.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

This initiative has multiple revenue streams, including profit on input sales, markup on credit, agronomic advisory fee, and platform fee from crop buyers. Long-term, these revenue streams will increase while cost per farmer decreases, making Ricult financially sustainable without external investments. The more farmers we help, the more crops we help sell, and the more profit we both gain.

We kick started Ricult with seed funding and innovation competition prizes. In the short-term, we are raising to close the Pre Series A round. The current financial breakdown is:

1. Individual donations or gifts - 0%
2. FinTech Challenge Award- 20%
3. Corporate contributions - 0%
4. Earned income (Company Revenue) - 53%
5. Other - (Equity investment) - 27%

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

There are many players trying to combat poverty amongst smallholder farmers however either they concentrate on only part of the problem (E.g. Agro-hub only focusing on access to agricultural markets and information) or their solutions are not scalable (E.G. One Acre Fund reaching 400,000 farming families in ten year period). We differ from the rest as we cater to the entire agricultural value chain and are far more scalable than our competitors.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Very early on my career, working first at Exxon Chemicals and then at Nestle, I happened to work with smallholder farmers and observe first hand the extreme poverty and hardships they live with every day. The exploitation they faced from middlemen was extreme and jarring. For instance just in Pakistan alone there are approximately 300,000 farmers stuck in bonded labor trying to pay off the debts that their forefathers took. This made a deep mark on me. Later on when I launched easypaisa (mobile money business),I realized how simple technology could be used to create huge social impact. That's when I quit my job, went to MIT and initiated work on Ricult. I was lucky to have met my co-founders there, who like me had gone through their own unique journeys which had given them similar ambitions and that's how we kick started Ricult in October 2015.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

Attachments (1)

The Ricult Solution.pptx

This presentation details our technology and details of various components of our end-to-end solution. This includes our Input Marketplace, Credit Scoring, Dashboard and Output Platform

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Photo of Jonathan Litscher

Great approach, tackling all of the key issues facing smallholders on a single scaleable platform. Wishing you all the best for your project!

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