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Farmer finance tool sparks investor interest

A Kenyan ICT4Ag application showcased at the regional finals of the CTA Agrihack Championship has proved a winning idea, with commercial potential.

Farmdrive, a platform that connects farmers and lenders, has attracted the interest of a Japanese investor, who was present at the hackathon, held in November 2013.
"He approached us at the event and said he found the idea interesting," explains Caroline Muteti, one of the four young Kenyans who developed the app. "Since then, he has been working with us to perfect it, so we can see if there is scope for applying the same idea in Japan."

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Also helping the team to develop and modify their prototype is Kenyan innovation hub c4dlab, together with mentors for agriculture and finance, all based at the University of Nairobi, where the young app developers are studying computer science.

"It has been fundamental to have this kind of support from other sectors," says Muteti, who, like her team mates, is 23-years-old. Three of the four inventors of Farmdrive are women.

The idea for the app came from the team members' own background. All their parents are farmers, and it soon became clear that accessing credit was a common problem.

Farmdrive was developed to bypass traditional lenders, such as banks and microfinance institutions. It enables investors to meet up with farmers wanting to become more commercial, and farmers to appeal for interest from investors, so that both sides can enter into a profitable relationship. The app includes a function that helps producers to manage their farm records, so they can make informed decisions on how to improve revenue. And it has a feature to handle money transactions between farmers and investors.

The application is now at the trial stage, and testers include the team's own parents on their farms.

"Our families have been very supportive and can't wait to see this application succeed," says Muteti. "We are very excited and working hard so we make sure we don't disappoint all the people who believe in us."

More information on Farmdrive
More information on c4d lab