Farmers can hardly get a loan from a financial institution in Kenya and those that are willing to give them are still skeptical as farming itself is highly volatile but one young man thought differently.
With everyone seeing farmers as unbankable, Award Winning Digital Marketer, Alex Mwaura Muriu saw an opportunity and left his well paying digital media jobs for corporate firms seven years ago to help farmers get funding for their produce even before they plant.
Murui, a young Kenyan entrepreneur, developed a system to meet the perennial challenge faced by African farmers in accessing capital to finance planting and harvesting by providing an alternative from the burden of financial loans through his Farm Capital Africa project.
Alex and his Farm Capital Africa (FCA) say that their existence is inspired by the huge financing gaps currently experienced by the Small Scale Agriculture industry in Africa, which ironically forms the breadbasket of the Continent. Reports from the Mastercard Foundation indicate that just 1% of the continent’s loan portfolios currently go to Agriculture, leaving billions of dollars in unserved and untapped Markets in this sector. And the team adds than anyone can see the gap by looking at rampant food shortages across the continent and the fact that majority of Africans living below the poverty line are in the susistence agricultureal sector.
“Our vision is to generate Weath in Africa though Agri-investment. We aim to channel capital to profitable and sustainable agriventures through strategic partnerships supported by technology,” the team says.
With that in mind, the firm works simply by pooling funds from individuals and institutional Investors then invest these funds into evaluated agricultural businesses. FCA manages how these funds are spent on the farm and the farmer only focuses on what they are good at-farming. FCA sources for and provides distribution services to transport produce to buyers, manages finances to ensure business continuity and profit sharing and later FCA gets its profit share, and pays investors back their capital plus interest.
Muriu’s co-founder, Musyoka Jason, also believes that FCA is pioneering the next frontier of innovative investment opportunities in Africa and securing investor confidence and support is sine qua non to guarantee success of any great idea and it’s something he is charge of.
“I ensure we are accountable to our investors for every shilling, penny, dirham, dollar or whatever currency of the money they give us,” Musyoka says.
Farm Capital Africa today brought home US$25 000 as second prize from the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), now in its fourth edition and this year held in Morocco. IPA saw over 925 applicatons from 41 countries this year and has attracted over 3,000 applications from 49 African countries. IPA was founded by Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, the Africa Innovation Foundation (AIF) Founder who said he was truly impressed with this year’s winning innovations.
“African innovators are taking flight, their innovative ideas are increasingly proving to be transformative – not only for Africa – but for the world. Through the IPA, the AIF is fostering the development of robust innovation ecosystems, which are essentially nests for African entrepreneurs and innovators to develop solutions for African challenges,” said de Morais.
African innovators continue to provide more innovative African solutions to address African problems and this years innovations further demonstrate great potential to change the course of history in Africans’ responses to health, technology, enterprise and the agricultural sector, prioritizing needs-based responses through cost effective means – a critical tool for sustainable development.
The AIF believes that young people (below age 35) are the epi-center of the African innovation ecosystem as they represent 65% of Africa’s 1.1 billion population. All nominees received recognition through a US$5 000 voucher as a support fund to boost their different innovations in their home countries.
Muriu won the Second Prize and South Africa’s Lesley Erica Scott was awarded the Special Prize for Social Impact. Both received $25,000 for their innovations. The $100,000 grand prize was won by Moroccan researcher Adnane Remmal who took the coveted Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2015 Grand Prize, scooping the US$100 000 in cash.
Remmal’s innovation, a patented alternative to livestock anti-biotics is set to transform the broader medical and agricultural sector in Africa as it aims at reducing health hazards in livestock, preventing the transmission of multi-resistant germs and carcinogens to human beings through consumption of milk, eggs and meat.