Farmart – The farmers’ market linking farmers to buyers.
Agrocentry founder, Abraham Nii Omani Quaye, an agro-business enthusiast, is on a mission in what his company believes will help build a system that should end poverty and hunger especially in Africa. Their online farmers’ market, Farmart, is practically creating the necessary market for farmers to reduce significantly post harvest losses and as final consumers, we get access to fresh food stuffs at the click of a button.
Farmart is providing solution for the working class who find it difficult to go shopping for fresh food items. With only a few months into the market, Farmart has over 200 farmers under their belt and indicators look great for them.
The CEO is a 26 year old graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the company can be located at Kaneshie – Accra, in Ghana. Asked what is his inspiration, Abraham Nii Omani Quaye explains, “I am inspired by the quest to see change and advancement in my life and the life of others making the world a better place.”
In this interview, Abraham gives insights into his business, shares tips, states his reason for choosing agriculture and more.
What is Farmart and why has coming into the market become a necessity?
Farmart is an online farmers’ market that connects farmers to households and businesses such as restaurants, hotels and supermarkets in Ghana. Customers select and order from a wide range of products such as vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat and poultry products, etc. online. Produce are sourced from farmers and they are delivered to them by well-trained persons anywhere in Accra.
Farmers across Africa suffer lack of access to market which ends up causing high post harvest losses and low return on investments. Post harvest losses have been estimated to be up to 30% in Sub Saharan Africa and globally 1.3 billion tons of food produced for people to consume ends up in the bin.
The farmers we partner benefit from having an assured market to reduce losses and increase return on investment. Customers benefit from buying these fresh produce at farm gate prices to save money, time and conveniently having their orders delivered to them at their homes or offices.
Generally, who are your target clients and how do you market your business?
We serve households especially busy people who may not have the time to go to the market. We also deliver to restaurants and hotels which promise to be lucrative.
Our best form of marketing is giving customers great initial experience which makes them recommend to their friends as well. Other forms may be word of mouth, visiting some strategic areas to share fliers, social media and also with the restaurants we go there directly to tell them about what we do.
Tells us briefly about how the market has responded to your concept since you commenced operation?
We have being amazed about how orders are rising month on month and we are even planning to move to a much larger place. We have made deliveries to a good number of locations in Accra so far. When a business meets a need, people will patronize it.
How are you different from the competition and why should potential clients be looking your direction?
Our customers always give us feedback about how affordable and fresh our products are. Another thing that they also appreciate is the convenience of the service since we deliver on time. We promise freshness, affordability and convenience.
As you have to deliver fresh foods on time, how do you deal with the transport situation?
For now we have to hire a car to make the delivery and we hope to get a structured logistics system in place.
In events of large orders, is your team having the capacity to handle them?
We have had large orders and we have being able to deal with it because we work with many farmers. We are increasing the number of farmers we work with across the country to avoid surprises.
Why are you passionate about agriculture and how is mentorship helping you?
This business was started as a result from my search to end my own hunger and poverty situation. I then realized I could solve this problem for two more, a hundred more and the world in general. I couldn’t have started in any field than the one I’m good at and love. Agriculture has also been estimated to be four times more effective to improve the living standard of people than any economic sector, so this affirms my belief.
You are on the mission to change the world through agriculture, what are the other practical means you are achieving this aside Farmart?
Farmart is one of the initiatives of Agrocentry Ghana and is our best foot forward. We are doing a few other things on the low and will be made public soon. Initiatives to inspire a new generation of farmers, value addition and so on. Agrocentry is on a simple mission to change the world through agriculture by building a robust food system that has the capacity to end hunger and poverty.
What have been some of your experiences running a business of your own?
Running a business comes with a lot of discipline. You must make the commitment to take action everyday to move you closer to the bigger goal. Also, though you may have a team, you will always find yourself doing sales and marketing, graphic and web designing, advertising, strategic planning, keeping financial records and so on. You must be ready to learn new things because you may not have enough to hire top notch executives.
For aspiring agricultural entrepreneurs what is your advice?
There are so many opportunities in agriculture basically because there are so many problems in there. Over 2 billion people will be joining the dining table by 2050 and therefore food production must increase to meet this need. Opportunities exist in areas like market access in which we are doing processing, inputs and financial services. We should also look at how we can improve agriculture with technology.
Once a need is discovered, farmers should be engaged frequently to improve on how they will adopt your solution because a lot of technologies on the continent suffer low adoption since a greater percentage of these farmers are less schooled. Agriculture is more than growing of foods and rearing animals, it has the potential to transform society.
What are some challenges you are encountering running Farmart, how are you overcoming them?
Our major challenge is logistics and as I indicated earlier, we are trying our best to have a structured logistics system in place. We are also doing our best to keep improving in every area of our business. The challenges make the journey fun.
Any mistakes you may have committed and hope not to repeat going forward?
We had a marketing campaign at one of these developed locations in Accra. However, it turned out that they are not our ideal customers though potential customers. After spending time, effort and sharing of many fliers, we had no order from them. We followed up several times and later discovered we made a mistake. We then made a profile of our ideal customer including their age range, location, occupation, annual income which has totally changed our way of marketing now.
In looking forward to going global, why should potential investors invest in Farmart?
This is really a big market which is set to grow to US$1 trillion by 2050 and is worth investing in. We believe anyone who is passionate about making the world a better place through agriculture may support us to create a robust global food system that has the capacity to end hunger and poverty.
What is your strategy for growth to surpass the fifth anniversary?
Over the next five years, we will like to have more farmers on our platform, move to other regions in Ghana and scale to other African countries. We will also diversify the products and services we offer.
On what working principles are you driving your company?
Trust is a priority in the e-commerce business. We always make sure we offer the best of products and services to our cherished customers. Innovation is also key. We are always looking at what’s trending, and stand at the edge to do something different.
What are your final words to aspiring African agro-entrepreneurs and potential clients of Farmart?
Preparation is very important in starting an agricultural venture or any other business. We must focus on learning as much as possible to know how to deliver the best solutions. Learn from the past, current and future industry trends; its worth, industry languages, keeping books, competition and so on. We must focus on the problems we are solving and not the profits because profits follows after solving problems.
I hold a strong conviction that when problems abound, solutions abound more since business is basically solving a problem for a reward which may not always be cash. You also get fulfillment, become a better person and make the world a better place. Having passion for agriculture is also very important since sometimes it gets challenging. Your desire will get you started and the passion will keep you going. There’s enough money in the soil!
Thank you, Abraham!
You no longer have to go shopping for basic food items if you need not to, because you can easily get them a few clicks away. Visit www.farmartghana.com to make an order and have items delivered as you want expect them.
This startup founder has shared quite a number of valuable business lessons, what have you picked from him.
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