Kenyan B2B agritech start-up Taimba is here to help smallholder farmers find markets for their produce by connecting them directly to retailers. It sources fresh agricultural produce with short shelf life from rural farmers who often lack proper storage methods, and delivers it to a range of small retailers in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
Dominique Kavuisya, CEO and Founder of Taimba, created the platform after identifying the amount of food wasted in rural parts of the country due to poor food preservation methods and a lack of ready markets at harvest time.
Middlemen and low productivity
Food waste aside, smallholders were at the mercy of middlemen who undercut the prices of their produce.
“Between [farmers and retailers], you look at five brokers or even more sometimes. There is a broker who will buy from the farmer. Then there is one who provides transportation. Then, to sell in local markets, you have to pay a fee,” says Kavuisya. APN.
In turn, end consumers in urban centers face high food costs, while farmers receive meager deferred payments.
Kavuisya wanted to create a platform that could connect rural farmers more directly to buyers, shorten the agricultural supply chain by cutting out these middlemen. And Taimba automates, streamlines and makes commerce transparent so farmers can track their sales through the mobile app.
“The opportunity was that if you leverage technology in the food supply chain, you are able to provide a platform that ensures transparency and allows farmers to not have to worry about where they are. are going to sell their products,” Kavuisya said.
Disadvantage of retailer
On the other side of the chain, he observed the inconvenience faced by retailers such as grocery stores, supermarkets and restaurants, which often have to pick up products in the early hours of the morning at quite high transport costs, given that most of them are informal traders. .
So Taimba went into logistics, which now includes cold chain storage following its raise in 2020, to provide free third-party transportation to retailers. They can then easily get their products within 24 hours of ordering through Taimba’s mobile app.
On the other hand, farmers based in rural parts of the country such as Eastern and Mount Kenya regions have access to guaranteed buyers on the platform. Their products, which can be tomatoes, onions or potatoes, are consolidated through agricultural cooperatives to be sold to retailers. They are paid the same day the products are collected, unlike most situations where they have faced delays from middlemen.
“For a farmer to increase his production, you have to offer him a formal market and pay him on time; with brokers, they don’t understand that,” Kavuisya notes.
Taimba generates revenue by adding a markup to the product.
Meeting the technological challenge
When working with rural smallholders, technology can often be a barrier due to low internet penetration in these areas and high data costs.
“We had to think of a solution that allows us to prove the model to farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain,” says Kavuisya. This solution relies on relationships with cooperatives whose staff members usually have mobile phones and can help integrate farmers into their networks.
With its expansion into Tanzania and Uganda, Taimba is also rolling out a lightweight app that uses little data or takes up a lot of storage on a very basic smartphone.
“As we scale, we need to think about micro-merchants, their motivations, and how we can ensure we meet their needs,” Kavuisya says.
From transport to the cold chain to fintech
As with many African agri-food startups, Taimba is also working on integrating a fintech solution that will provide credit to retailers, as most of the time they need bulk goods but don’t have enough cash at hand. ‘advance. It will use retailers’ purchase data on the platform to determine loan amounts, which would be around $250 or less for these smaller retailers.
Farmers will not be left out as Taimba is in talks with partners such as MasterCard and Commercial Bank of Kenya (KCB) to deploy capital to smallholder farmers through alternative lending models leveraging Taimba data.
“Banks have the same assumptions about lending to farmers and still apply the same lending policies, like requiring farmers to have bank statements for the last six months or two years, which doesn’t make sense to rural farmers since most of them do not have bank accounts,” he notes.
The introduction of input suppliers on the platform is underway to help farmers gain easier access and negotiate cheaper input prices through demand aggregation.
By the numbers
2,500: farmers on the platform.
25: agricultural cooperatives on the platform.
90%: buyers are small informal grocers
1000: small grocers, including 85% are women traders; and
ten% the buyers are schools and hospitals.
2%: levels of food waste, down from 50% on the back of Taimba’s interventions, according to Kavuisiya.
3h30 per day: how much time retailers can save with Taimba’s transportation solution.
$2 to $3: how much retailers save on logistics.
60%: how much farmers’ incomes increase, according to Taimba.
So far, agritech has secured $823,000 in seed, equity and grant funding in totalwith the support of Envy, DOEN Foundation and American impact investor coLABS from Gray Matters Capital.