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.
If you want to share your experience as a startup founder on TSH to Africa, send a brief detail of your business to email@example.com
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Rahmon Ojukotola: StartCredits Hopes to Save Nigerians Billions of Naira
High interest rates on loans are a barrier to growth and economic prosperity, which is why StartCredits has developed an innovative way for Nigerians to borrow quick online loans without collateral on its loan market comparison platform.
It is the aim of this fin-tech startup to help Nigerians access finance and save money by comparing loan providers. Rahmon, the Director of StartCredits is strategically growing this company to be the preferred loan market for a number of online borrowers.
Rahmon Ojukotola currently sits on the advisory board to the Florida schools group and previously worked at the Bank of England and UBS. Our startup founder, is also a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Royal Economic Society.
With these credentials, he surely has what it takes to lead the competitive loan market. Let’s find out what Rahmon has brought into the market and his life as an entrepreneur.
How is StartCredits disrupting the traditional borrowing in Africa as you suggest?
StartCredits is disrupting traditional borrowing, as our product provides transparency and increases competition in the market to reduce interest rates for qualified borrowers. It also provides a new channel for Nigerians to borrow money.
From your enviable background why did you decide to leave all that to start a startup in Nigeria?
I worked in investment banking and central banking for a number of years and gained a finance MSc from the London School of Economics and chartered qualifications in accounting, investments, securities and finance. I decided to build a startup in Nigeria because there were opportunities and issues that needed tackling, and I thought I had the right skill set to do so. So I gave up a well paying job and decided to come back to try and build something that would hopefully contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.
How unique are features of StartCredits?
We are the first and only business in Nigeria offering our services to all Nigerians who need loans. We have developed innovative proprietary risk models that accurately measure the borrowers probability of default. This improves our partner lenders’ ability to assess risk, and enables them to disperse more loans to qualified borrowers.
What has been the major achievement StartCredits has chalked since you commenced operation?
We have helped thousands of Nigerians to save millions of naira in interest rate so far and hope to save billions of naira in the coming years.
As much as people really need loans, Rahmon, what is your advice to stay out of debts?
My advice to Nigerians is to ensure you do not take out loans to fund lavish expenditures, loans should be used to finance good business plans. Also remember to budget for interest and other fees in any loans you do take, to stay out of debt. For more technical advice on debt management visit our website on http://startcredits.com
One of the notable features of your company is the stress on Data Science, how relevant is it?
Data science is at the heart of what we do at StartCredits. We utilise big data analytics to build innovative credits risk models, which help facilitate affordable lending to underserved qualified borrowers.
What great challenge are you facing in running your startup?
It’s pretty much to do with the adoption of the technology. Technology in general is all about finding the best ways to do things. In certain industries it’s easier to have the incumbents accept that, whereas in finance, people have become entrenched in how they do things. It’s highly profitable, so there’s more resistance to changing a winning formula. Finance is highly resistant to change, but people are slowly starting to adapt as you’re seeing with Blockchain technology, which I think has the potential to revolutionize the finance industry. The banks are slowly coming around, but are still highly resistant to change given the nature of the business. In Nigeria, it’s mostly trying to get the people to use the technology. People are highly suspicious of new technologies, so it’s a bit of a challenge
How do you foresee this industry going into the future?
The lending market in Nigeria will be one driven primarily by digital lending in the future, as it is more efficient. I also feel we will continue the cultural tradition of thrift lending (Ajo, Esusu), as it fosters community cohesion.
Tell us which African entrepreneurs inspire you and why.
I think all African entrepreneurs that have built successful business in the face of significant challenges deserve commendation. Saying that I find Ola Orekunrin’s work saving lives with flying doctors to be truly inspiring to all Nigerians and especially young girls. She is a role model who shows them if they study and work hard they can have a significant impact on the lives of many in Nigeria.
What financial advice can you share with fellow startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs across Africa?
My advice to entrepreneurs across Africa is to make sure that everything you’re doing is simultaneously helping you achieve your goals and make profits as well. Don’t leverage too much and try not to grow too fast. Also, make sure that what you’re doing is what people want. The whole point of doing business is addressing the needs of society. So make sure you do your extensive research, go out and meet people to listen to what they’re saying, and make sure you have the right skill set to execute your plan. Once all of that is in place, you’re good to go.
Thank you, Rahmon!
To find out more about loan rates and the company, kindly visit startcredits.com.
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