Ifarm360, a new crowd farming platform has launched to empower farming as a business by linking smallholder farmers to affordable finance from crowd investors to help improve farm production.
Ifarm360 also helps users supervise production and create a sustainable revenue-sharing model for its users.
Ifarm was officially launched in March 2020 by Derrick Gakuu, Milka Owuor, Fredrick Juma and Dr Astrid Knoblauch from Switzerland.
For Derrick; born and raised by farmers and as a farmer, his experience with the issues that troubled small holder farmers borne his determination to build the agricultural sector and change the lives of future farmers.
Milka says she holds the empowerment of farmers dear to her heart while the availability of arable land in Africa and the disconnect between land availability and food security in many countries is another motivation.
“I was motivated by the gap and deficit of food against the backdrop of availability of land in her own home setting,” she said. She also inspired Dr. Knoblauch to join the team after studying and working together for 10 years.
Speaking to TechMoran.com, Derrick Gakuu, one of three co-founders at Ifarm360 said, the market opportunity for ifarm360 is huge. “Agriculture is very wide because about 70% of the food in Kenya is produced by smallholder farmers,” Gakuu told TechMoran.com. “We realized that increased smallholder activity will unlock Africa’s agricultural potential. The market opportunity for farm produce is already lucrative enough and promotes smallholder farmers.”
Gakuu, with a Marketing and Communication background and social innovation and entrepreneurship, says Ifarm360’s competition in Kenya are financial institutions like banks and microloan institutions that finance farmers, though they are few and also expensive.
“We are unique in that our farmers receive affordable capital without expected interest on return. The payback is derived from the produce harvested,” Gakuu said adding that after the Kenyan market, Ifarm360 aims to venture into Africa as a continental market.
The self-funded firm’s core business model is in farming as a business, so it makes money through agricultural commodity trade after harvests. It sources production funds from crowd investors who are able to invest safely from anywhere in the world, just like other crowdfunding platforms Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Africa’s platforms include Farmcrowdy, Farmable, Thrive Agric, Growsel, Farmkart, eFarms among others.
Ifarm360 sources production funds from crowd investors who are able to invest safely from anywhere in the world to help innovate the agricultural value chain with technology.
“We are passionate about smallholder farmers because we believe that proper farming at scale is a powerful lever,” Gakuu told TechMoran.com. “When farmers are inspired to produce more, they are able to become food sufficient, power a food secure world, and improve their livelihoods all round.”
Though 90% of startups fail within 5 years after establishment, Ifarm360 says it’s here to stay because its solution is solving food security which is a big problem locally, and across Africa.
ifarm360 also says its solution has a market on 3 tier levels, smallholder farmers who are actively looking for affordable finance, with crowd investors actively looking for investment opportunities that have an impact side to it and agricultural value chains themselves have guaranteed market opportunities.
The co-founder says they chose entrepreneurship as it’s fulfilling for them and gives them an opportunity to empower themselves and their users and bring value and impact to communities, across Africa, and beyond.
As a new platform, ifarm360 anticipate investor trust as a challenge, and most rural farmers not being technology savvy. However, these are not institutional or system challenges and both can be solved.
For data privacy and security, the firm says its end to end process is hinged on ensuring safety and protection of client information. Its systems are encrypted end-to-end to avoid any unauthorized access.