Rita Kimani, Co-founder, FarmDrive Kenya

Farmdrive is a data analytics startup based in Kenya which uses data to credit score farmers. Farmdrive supports smallholder farmers by driving financial services to them and helps financial institutions cost-effectively increase their agricultural loan portfolios.  

Agriculture is a huge sector in Africa, contributing to 32% of Africa’s GDP and 65% of the African population are smallholder farmers. Despite this, very little capital is channelled to agriculture. Most smallholder farmers in Kenya thus lack loan application platforms since financial institutions lack data to refer to for risk management.  Farmers, therefore, lack the capital to purchase necessities for quality production.  Farmdrive seeks to address this issue. It generates real-time credit reports for small farmers, allowing them to access loans from financial institutions and agricultural input providers via mobile phone. This is a service to farmers that are paid by the financial institutions.

Founders

FarmDrive was co-founded in 2013 by Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire.

Rita and Peris met in the computer science program at the University of Nairobi and found out that they were both “computer geeks and farm girls with the same ambition to change the lives of smallholder farmers.” In their final year of university, they resolved to use their personal and academic experiences to bridge the gap between small farmers and financial institutions and founded FarmDrive right after graduation.

FarmDrive has now reached hundreds of farmers with its suite of financial services, credit reports and financing options, with a particular focus on serving women and youth farmers typically neglected by the formal financial system.

Digital Application

When farmers sign up to the platform, either by SMS or by using the app, they are asked a number of questions that will be used to create a farmer’s profile. The questions aim to find out the farmer’s location, crops cultivated, size of the farm and assets such as tractors.

The farmers who qualify for loans, receive the loans via M-Pesa and also pay back the loans via the same platform.

Farmdrive has a digital record-keeping application for farmers. It is a farm management application to help farmers keep records and track their farming activities.

The application not only enables the farmers to keep track of their farming activities but also provides analytics for decision making.

The farmer data combined with existing agricultural data is used to understand each farmer’s specific needs and provide analytics that gives them insight into their farming activities. This data is also used to develop an alternative credit score to determine creditworthiness which is used by financial institutions to inform lending decisions and design credit products suitable.

Impact to Financial Institutions

FarmDrive gives access to aggregated agricultural data and smallholder farmers data which is used by financial institutions to inform lending decisions and design credit products suitable for these farmers.

Farmdrive has had discussions with financial institutions to understand their limitations , the kind of data they would be interested in and how our system should be designed to integrate with theirs.

In September 2016, FarmDrive partnered with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) with the objective of using satellite images to better understand planting cycles, crop yields, and trends in production to help forecast future revenues, the timing of income and potential gaps in payments. The data generated through this effort would help FarmDrive and other microfinance institutions to create relevant financial products tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers.

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