Over 800 million people lack enough food in the world but over 60% of these live in Asia and Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO reports that 16 countries of the 22 most undernourished countries are in Africa with an undernourishment prevalence rate of over 35%.
Worse still Africa’s population is expected to hit 2 billion in 2050. But just who will feed all these mouths?
Kenya’s SokoText, an SMS based food pre-odering application aims to connect food vendors and retailers in the urban informal settlements. The startup has received ($8,000) Ksh 730,000 from the London School of economics and equity-free seed capital $40,000 ( Ksh3.5million) from Start-UP Chile in a quest to make food insecurity in Africa history.
SokoText’s unique idea got them a place at the world renowned Start-Up Chile, a program created by the Chilean Government, that seeks to attract early stage, high-potential entrepreneurs from around the globe to bootstrap their startups in Chile and use it as a platform to go global. The team will also have a temporary 1-year visa to develop their projects for six months, along with access to Chile’s social and capital networks. The startup was also among the the finalists at the 2013 Hult prize, the world’s largest social enterprise competition.
Aimed at solving Africa’s food insecurity SokoText was founded by Suraj Gudka, Sofia Zab, Carolina Medina, Verena Liedgens and Jonah Brotman in 2013 specifically for small-scale vegetable retailers.
The platform gives small-scale vegetable sellers and kiosk owners ability to pre-order food stuff a day earlier before they go to sell them than buying them every morning.
“A vegetable or food vendor puts an order with us in the evening via an SMS text, stating what the exact amount of food they want. We then buy for them their orders and they come to pick them from us instead of going to the market the following morning. Suraj Gudka told TechMoran.
“We won’t be a marketplace for farmers to sell their produce on SokoText. We will mantain buying from farmers then selling to our subscribers. In future we shall go deep into rural areas where food is cheaper and buy from the farmers there,” said Gudka.
SokoText aims at buying food produce in bulk food directly from farmers hence eliminating middlemen and reducing the time and money the Mama Mboga’s spend to get their stock. The Mama Mboga’s or vegetable sellers will instead just pre-order what they need and then pick at at various Soko Kiosks set to be distributed in Nairobi’s slums where people do their food shopping everyday as they do not have storage facilities to store food for a whole week or month unlike their middle class counterparts who have fridges and deep freezers.
The start up has been running a pilot project in Mathare and is at the moment building a Kiosk to serve the Mama Mbogas. SokoText aims integrate all the urban slums in Kenya to the system by the end of the year. SokoText aims to change lives than just win awards.The funds will go along way in helping the start up set up Soko shops in different locations so as to serve a larger customer base and help in expanding and making better the start ups operations.