mAgri

mAgri is a USSD services that gives farmers access to helpful information/advisory services,markets,finance, and low cost communication.

Photo of Naledi Magowe
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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

Brastorne Enterprises

Year founded

2013

Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • For-profit

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Botswana

Headquarters location: City

Gaborone

Location(s) of impact

Botswana, Gaborone, Molepolole,Mahalpye, Masunga,Phalapye

Website

http://www.mAgri.co.bw

Facebook URL

http://www.facebook.com/magribw

Twitter URL

http://www.twitter.com/magribotswana

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

With 80% of the population and 70% of rural households deriving their livelihood from agriculture in Botswana, agriculture however only contributes 2.5% to the GDP. This is partly due to the lack of access to relevant and timely information, access to markets, and access to finance.This gap creates a problem for the Farmers, thus developing the need for a link between Farmers, government, merchants and financial institutions.

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

mAgri is a USSD application that gives farmers access to information, markets, low cost communication and short term finance. The project will do this by marketing agricultural products throughout Botswana, as well as providing a service network between the farmers, government, agricultural merchants and service providers. mAgri allows farmers to market their products and services across the country, using ANY cell phone, including basic feature phones and from any part of Botswana. Farmers will be able to receive valuable agricultural information (helpful farming tips, animal healthcare database, training opportunities, announcements, commodity prices, and weather alerts), set up business profiles and mobile stores therefore enabling trade, chat unlimited, and access email and Wikipedia all from their mobile phones. The app has both English and Setswana options, and is simple enough for any person to navigate.

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

We currently have Over 300,000 active users that have actively used the service, 500,000 that have accessed it and up to 100,000 monthly users which is a significant portion of Botswana's population of 2,200,000. Because of mAgri, farmers are able to connect and collaborate with other farmers in different parts of the country and form a mobile community at lower cost than sms therefore saving them communication costs. Farmers are able to have helpful and timely information directly from organizations such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board and the Local Enterprise authority right at the tip of their thumbs and don't have to travel vast distances and incur costs just to access that information. Farmers also have access to markets and market price information which allows them to be able to make better decisions about what to produce, where to sell their output and have a better bargaining position when dealing with local traders.

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

The business has been mainly funded by its co-founders, earned income, and a grant. less than 3% of the budget came from a grant, while 20% came from co-founders investment and 77% from earned income. Our solutions sustainability is highlighted in our growth strategy. Due to the scallable nature of our USSD platform, we intend on scalling into additional countries in Africa. Additionally we also intend on increasing the service offering of USSD platform to include different sectors such as health and education (i.e mHealth, mEdu). We also aim to take a channel agnostic approach which increases our reach by expanding the mAgri service offering to include Voice, and a downloadable mobile application which will serve as additional revenue streams.

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

The innovative nature of mAgri is in that it addresses all farmers including the underprivileged located in the rural areas of Botswana by the use of USSD technology, which makes mAgri easily accessible to each farmer due to the 100% mobile penetration and 20% smart phone penetration in the country. This gives mAgri a clear advantage over other initiatives and places it in a position for inevitable success as it is an inclusive innovation and caters to the vast majority in Botswana.

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

We have an insatiable fire burning in our hearts for the improvement of the lives of people in our
country. This inferno was ignited by the painful realization of the impediments continuously faced by
the people of Botswana, most especially the uneducated, poverty stricken low income population.
These problems became the catalyst of our drive to become the solution. We wanted to provide
valuable and life changing solutions that have high social impact. This led to our vision of connecting the unconnected by making dumb phones smart. Our aim is developing solutions focusing on low cost
interaction for users at the base of the economic pyramid and this became the genesis of mAgri. We then identified an opportunity for this in agriculture by creating access for the disadvantaged communities by using a tool that was readily available to them, the mobile phone.

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

  • Other

Program Design Clarity: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

we provide a knowledge portal which allows farmers to get up to date information on best farming practices to help them increase their yield, through this platform they also get access to training opportunities, market price fluctuations and recommended trading prices, allowing our farmers to be fully competitive with more established farmers. We also allow for our underserved farmers to communicate more cost effectively. Using our patented USSD technology, underprivileged farmers can now chat with other farmers, experts and merchants much cheaper then SMS technology for an unlimited period, 24 hours a day. once the users have produced a quality competitive product of good yield we then provide access to markets by allowing our users to trade their produce competitively with other established farmers. Although mobile allows us to reach more farmers across our sparsely populated country, there are still pockets of communities that have not heard of mAgri or need more handholding, so they can fully benefit from the power of mAgri. We therefore have quarterly outreach activities where we train farmers. We have partnerships with both government and NGO’s who already have established a trustworthy relationship with farmers in those underserved areas. These partners help provide capacity to facilitate trainings and assist with reaching out to mentor farmers post our trainings. These activities are delivered quarterly or on request and they normally last 3 days each village.

Focus area

  • Rural Development

We are interested in learning more about your initiative's broad impact on sustainable development. Please reply ONLY to the question(s) related to your above focus area.

To date mAgri now has over 300 000 users with access to farming information, over 55% of whom are female, 100 000 monthly users enjoying low cost communication and sending over 350 000 daily chat messages to each other. Over 60 000 mobile stores are set up and able to trade of which 65% are owned by females. mAgri currently has 15 direct employees and while we have not concluded our survey to look at how many indirect jobs we have created through successful businesses on our platform, we are confident that we have added to job creation statistics in Botswana. mAgri and contributes to the eradication of poverty as agriculture is closest to the majority of the poor. It reduces the digital gap for rural farmers by reducing search and communication costs, improving coordination among farmers and their stakeholders and increases market efficiency for famers in remote and rural areas who cannot afford smartphones, internet, or mobile data, therefore levelling the playing field for these disadvantaged groups. The underserved are now part of agricultural eco system and can also get services that were previously only reserved for those who could afford them.

Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

mAgri creates value for rural populations by not only providing a platform that can move people out of poverty but can also prosper them. Farmers get to set up mobile stores and are able to earn a living. Secondly farmers get access to low cost communication allowing them to stay connected with other farmers which facilitates networking and communication in response to shocks,(i.e disease outbreaks) thereby reducing households’ exposure to risk.. Farmers also get access to advanced internet based applications such as email, and Wikipedia without the need for smart phones and data. mAgri particulary benefits key populations such as the youth and female with over 90% of our monthly users being under 35 and over 65% being female. mAgri also acts as an entry point for the underserved to become involved in agriculture and helps upskill them in areas of their trade by providing them with the necessary information (i.e an animal healthcare database, training opportunities etc) at a low cost.

How is your initiative funded, now and over the next 5 years?

Our model is currently mostly funded by earned income, less than 3% is attributed to grants. Our model does not rely on grants. Because of the success of the service, sales drive the business including parts of our growth. We are looking for grants specifically to be used to drive our social agenda. That is, in areas which are less profitable and hard to reach such as rural underpopulated areas where the social impact is more immense. Without grants we would have more of a challenge in reaching these areas and focus more on areas which drive our profitability. Grants will also allow us to diversify our product offering.

How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the CSV Prize?

The idea is to share knowledge with other budding young entrepreneurs. There are many agriculture platforms but very few are profitable. I think we have developed a very good business model which has several income generating streams across B2B and B2C. Secondly I believe that even though we have patents on our application, there are aspects to our software that we are able to provide to entities not in the same markets or direct competition with us to inspire more innovation. Thirdly I believe that we have developed corporate partnerships with some of Africa’s biggest mobile networks. This will allow us to incubate or provide access for organisations whose businesses rely on the huge databases and connections of mobile networks.

How will you leverage an investment from Nestle to expand the impact of your work?

We are in the game of numbers, therefore mAgri marketing (both digital & traditional) mostly is in urban and peri urban areas where there is most population. This prize will allow us to spread into rural, not so profitable areas where the social impact is high. Because our strategy is to be present in 22 african countries within the next 5 years, this grant will also allow us to replicate into other countries where there are bigger populations. Lastly the prize will allow us to expand our products for the underserved by developing access to legal aid and health & wellness. Both services are essential to the underserved as these are sectors that also have a direct impact on rural populations and present many opportunities for social impact.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact? What’s the projected impact for the coming years? Are you planning to expand your programme into new locations? On what assumptions do you build your scale-up plans?

Our strategy for scaling and impact include geographical expansion and transferability to additional sectors. We began the journey of connecting the unconnected by understanding that lack of access for disadvantaged groups is not only a Botswana problem, but an African Problem. Our model is one that can be replicated across different countries and therefore having the ability to impact more people. Through our partnership with Orange, we aim to enter a minimum of 22 countries that have an Orange presence by 2022, and aim to reach a minimum of 10million people who will benefit from our services. Our platform is dynamic and can serve not only the agricultural sector but other sectors such as education, health and justice. Through our success in agriculture we noted similar issues in other sectors that we can address through our platform. We intended to replicate this model across different sectors to increase our impact because these sectors also directly impact disadvantaged communities

Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, number of full-time vs. part-time staff, board members, etc.)? How will this team evolve as your initiative grows?

BBrastorne Enterprises has grown significantly from a team of only two employees consisting of its founders (Naledi Magowe and Martin Stimela) to an enterprise that now has 15 full time employees which has resulted in us reaching 48% of milestone of creating 32 direct jobs . Our Team is equipped with qualified individuals with experience in Agriculture, telecommunications, banking, software engineering, project management to marketing, finance and data analytics totalling to well over 30 years of combined experience. As we grow, the idea is to include field staff who can be paid on commission basis as they recruit and train users in their respective districts. This is a cost effective way of growing while directly impacting the communities we work in.

Awards: What awards or honors has the initiative received?

mAgri has recieved 1st prize In 2016 Pitch Agrihack competition hosted by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

Organizational leadership: How are you influencing your field of work in the present?

Through our shared knowledge programme, we share our strategy and our business model with other identified start-ups and advice them on how they can improve their model (if necessary). Our co-founders also provide one on one mentoring specifically to founders looking to graduate from early stage start up or looking to commercialize. We also provide business facilitation services into mobile networks we are partnered with for companies looking to partner with mobile networks. This helps to bypass the long bureaucratic processes that mostly result in failure. For non-profit organisations looking to connect with key target groups, we provide free marketing to our database of over 400 000 users

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend the Ashoka Impact Boot camp and Creating Shared Value Prize Live Pitch Event at the World Water Forum 13-16 March 2018

  • Yes, I am available to attend the events on 13-16 March 2018

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Photo of Naledi Magowe

Hey Dorine – thank you for your mail and apologies for responding later. We started in the enterprises in 2014 but became operational and began trading in 2016. As you can imagine, expansion is hectic. In terms of expansion across countries, we have signed exclusive contracts with multi-national mobile network providers and therefore we have access to 24 african countries. The real issue is our capacity to deploy fast enough as we will need local partners who are much more familiar with the culture and regulations in the respective countries.
Best wishes,
Naledi

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