An agri-tech app that runs on very basic mobile phones is helping farmers in Africa get better prices for their crops by selling in bulk, thanks to a Cambridgeshire company supported by Innovate UK EDGE.
AGRIinsight, launched by CEO Patrick Guyver in 2016, has 15,000 rural smallholders in Tanzania signed up to its business support software. Aided by the app, its commercial partners are shipping as much as 10,000 tonnes of rice.
Innovate UK EDGE tapped for agri-tech app's business strategy
Penny Lord, innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE, has been helping AGRIinsight to develop its technology and to grow into international markets.
As a result, 300,000 are expected to sign up by mid-2022, generating more revenue per week than the business achieved last year ($48,000). Nine senior posts have been created, plus 15 jobs in Africa.
Innovate UK EDGE’s support covered the strategic direction of the business, including financial planning and leadership for growth, initially expanding in Tanzania with potential to move into other sub-Saharan countries in Africa.
She has also helped AGRIinsight to convey the benefits of its AI-driven platform and to create pitches to farm industry connections and potential partners.
Patrick said: “Innovate UK EDGE has provided me with fantastic advice and support as I have grown my business from seed to growth.
“The challenge and focus my specialist adviser has provided has enabled me to set out my vision for the business and help me expand and achieve my goals. Innovate UK EDGE has given me a platform to continue this aspirational growth.”
Pivoting to a new opportunity
The company began as a cloud mapping platform but pivoted to business support software for farmers and others in the supply chain after uncovering the high demand. After a 20% equity cash injection and support in their target market, they rolled out the new software to rice farmers in Tanzania.
The app, linked to web-based technology, aggregates small amounts to make the crop more attractive to buyers and also offers discounts on bulk purchase of fertiliser.
AGRIinsight's support extends to banking and insurance services, including medical insurance and training in use of fertiliser to increase farm productivity and incomes.
Farmers do not pay for the service, only supplying data such as their name, location and crops, so that fertiliser and other support can be tailored to their needs. Farmers then text what crops they are selling.
AGRIinsight is now looking into new crop markets as well as integrating mobile money with an on-the-ground presence that paves the way for ‘smart village’ hubs. This integrated system will mean farmers could sell their commodities and then use the money from the mobile app to purchase fertiliser and other products and services.
Innovate UK EDGE has provided me with fantastic advice and support as I have grown my business from seed to growth.'
Patrick Guyver, CEO and founder, AGRIinsight Ltd