MasterCard, global technology company with presence in Nigeria, on Tuesday, launched a digital platform that connects smallholder farmers, agents, buyers and banks in East Africa.
Tagged, ‘2KUZE’ which in Swahili means “Let’s grow together,” the platform enables farmers to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via their feature phones.
According to a statement by MasterCard, the platform brings the benefits and security of mobile commerce and payments to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
It said the 2KUZE was developed at the MasterCard Lab for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, which was set up in 2015 to develop practical and cost-effective financial tools that expand access and help build stable futures for more than 100 million people globally.
Through an $11m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the lab is working with East African entrepreneurs, governments and other stakeholders to develop local products rooted in the company’s global knowhow.
In the initial pilot, 2KUZE is being launched in partnership with Cafédirect Producers Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with 300,000 smallholder farmers globally.
Currently, 2,000 small-scale farmers in Nandi Hills, Kenya are currently using the solution to sell their produce and working with farmer-friendly agents to ensure they reach the right buyers for the best price.
The Division President, sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, Daniel Monehin, was quoted as saying, “Eighty per cent of farmers in Africa are classified as smallholder farmers having less than two acres of farming land, making it extremely difficult to drive growth and prosperity within this community.”
“We believe that by using mobile, a technology that is so ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, we can improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments.
“The collaboration between the lab team and farmers in the market helped to deliver a solution that can be implemented and make an impact without any major changes to the day-to-day.”