Jamila Abass: The queen of African Agritech Industry
Jamila Abass, a computer scientist founded M-Farm in 2010, after reading about how farmers disconnected in terms of information are exploited by middlemen price-wise, “many farmers only have produced but don’t have the means to market their produce themselves”. Abass who always had a knack for entrepreneurship from an early age, grew up selling at a shop as both parents were entrepreneurs, she used to sell produce from her kitchen garden to neighbours and sell sweets made out of milk and sugar. She combined her entrepreneurial and technical skills in a meaningful way. Abass and her formidable team developed a tool – M-Farm, that allows farmers to SMS a number to receive information relating to the retail price of their products, those prices are updated daily with information of 42 crops sold in 5 major Kenyan markets.
M-Farm further realized that farmers don’t have access to storage facilities while also realizing that many farmers are producing in low volume and buyers in big cities don’t want the hassle of getting the needed produce from multiple farmers. This led to offering a group selling tool which gets farmers to team up to bring their produce to selected offsetting/drop points. They then send SMS to the system to promote what they sell Furthermore in addition to the group selling tool and market price information tool M-Farm also developed a group buying tool allowing farmers pool resources to negotiate better prices for inputs. All transactions are handled by M-Farm’s integrated mobile money transfer system but can accommodate adding bank accounts.
The system is kept at balance by both buyer and seller. When an order is placed, the seller takes his produce to the designated collection point and sends a confirmation message to M-Farm. While for the buyer, after collection of the produce send an SMS to M-Farm to verify the quantity and quality. Once that’s been confirmed and the order completed the money is released to the farmers account by M-Farm while for collective orders with multiple farmers, the money is distributed Jamila is helping farmers trapped in subsistence agriculture move into commercial farming by leveraging the available mobile technology.