Leading image

For farming fortune, dial mAgri

Impact story


A Botswanan start-up is breaking the barriers to digital technologies for rural smallholder farmers. Brastorne Enterprises, a winner of CTA’s 2016 Pitch AgriHack competition, operates a mobile platform called mAgri to improve farmers’ access to information, markets and finance.

mAgri is a USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) based platform, which can be used on any mobile phone. The app has included underserved communities in the remote villages of Botswana by connecting them to a communication ecosystem at an affordable cost.

Through the platform, which merges several mobile technologies, farmers can find a market to sell their products, but more importantly, interact and share ideas. At a cost of €0.75 (9 pula) per month, subscribers to the platform can access information on market prices, weather and best agronomic practices. Soon they will also have access to financial services and insurance cover via the mobile platform.

“We have taken a mobile phone and turned it into a trade platform,” says Martin Thato Stimela, managing director of Brastorne Enterprises.

What the Hack

In 2016, Brastorne Enterprises was invited to take part in CTA’s Pitch AgriHack competition. The competition is designed to develop the business services offered by young ICT4Ag start-ups. The mAgri app emerged as the winner from a group of 25 finalists under the early stage category of start-ups at the Pitch AgriHack final, held in Kenya in 2016.

Naledi Magowe, Chief Marketing Officer of Brastorne Enterprises, says Pitch AgriHack’s hands-on approach to training helped her company to fine-tune its pitching of business ideas to prospective investors. The training also helped the company to understand what financiers look for in start-ups that they want to fund.

“Since Pitch AgriHack, we have not done things differently, but smarter and more effectively,” says Magowe, who participated in a training boot camp as part of Pitch AgriHack. “During our mentorship session it was highlighted that we needed to expand and we are basically working towards getting out of Botswana and into other countries.”

Conferences and workshops, which Brastorne Enterprises have been invited to by CTA, have also been strategic to our business, says Magowe. At the 2017 Social Good summit in Geneva, the company met with business development executives of the multinational telecommunications corporation Orange, who helped map out Brastorne Enterprises’ plans for scaling up its services by rolling out new features to improve the mAgri service. The ICT start-up has a strategic partnership with Orange Botswana, which has given them access to a large pool of potential users.

Other networking opportunities have availed from CTA’s support for the advertising of mAgri through radio and SMS campaigns.

Forty-one new jobs created

Brastorne Enterprises invested part of the €7,500 prize money from Pitch AgriHack into a marketing outreach programme to grow more subscribers on the mAgri platform. Following Pitch AgriHack, Brastorne Enterprises has grown the mAgri service targeting 8 villages in Botswana with a particular focus on women.

“In mAgri we have created a mobile application based on actual market perspective that enables farmers to cheaply communicate trade and interact with each other, as well as with markets for their produce,” said Magowe. She said the company has created 23 fulltime jobs, which will increase to 41 by the end of August 2018.

“Brastorne is becoming a model for young entrepreneurs and they have helped us illustrate to other youths how to design a successful business model, due to the unique value proposition of their product,” says CTA’s Senior ICT4Ag Programme Coordinator, Ken Lohento, commending the mAgri services.

Connecting the unconnected farmers

“With our platform, subscribers have an internet application. The secret sauce was adding a chat platform. We have 500,000 people on our platform and 100,000 loyal monthly subscribers. We are adding 500 people on the platform every day.”

Stimela, said while it is difficult to measure the impact of mobile applications, CTA is planning to help the company to evaluate usage of the mAgri app. “We have built a community of people and an ecosystem. It has helped traders reach a market they never had before,” Stimela said. “Over 80% of users are youths and they are interacting with agriculture for the first time on our platform.”


Optional title

TechShelta: Greenhouse farming solutions powered by digital technology


Four young Ghanaians armed with technological insight and passion, are making it their mission to revolutionise agriculture in their country. The group, that met in 2018 during an innovation challenge competition, pooled together to form one of Ghana’s youngest agritech companies focusing on maximising greenhouse farming efficiency through innovative solutions.

Maziwaplus - Providing solutions for Kenyan dairy farmers


According to Livestock Research for Rural Development (LRRD), dairy farming is the single largest sub sector of agriculture in Kenya. Kenya’s dairy sub sector contributes about 8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with an annual milk production of 3.43 billion L. Although smallholder Dairy farmers make up to 80% of total dairy producers and produce 56% of total milk in Kenya, they are constrained by factors including low technical skills on husbandry practices and lack of reliable statistical information on milk market outlets.

ProFish: a catch for Ghanaian fisherfolk


"The Digitalisation of African Agriculture Report, 2018-2019" reveals that the uptake of D4Ag solutions among women in sub-Saharan Africa is low. Though up to 50% of farmers there are women, D4Ag registration among them is approximately 25%. However, at least one young woman is changing the narrative by not only using but creating a digital solution to promote food security. Caroline Pomeyie is co-founder and CEO of ProFish Ghana Limited, a start-up with huge potential to transform the fishing industry.

Trackball Global Technologies - Helping urban farmers


Trackball Global Technologies is one of Nigeria’s newest D4Ag companies. Founded in 2019, Trackball provides ICT solutions. Through its e-learning platform, AgriCo, entrepreneurs in urban areas learn best practices for growing crops and rearing animals from the comfort of their homes with interactive online classes tutored by experts in agriculture.

Be sure you don't miss our latest updates.