Stories of resilience, innovation and impacts from agri-food businesses across Africa in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic!
AgriGo is an organization that provides digital mobile solutions through USSD technology to help smallholder farmers make smart production dec...
AgriGo is an organization that provides digital mobile solutions through USSD technology to help smallholder farmers make smart production decisions, connect to markets, and track farm management. Following the outbreak of the pandemic in Rwanda, Shikama Dioscore, the CEO of AgriGo and his team doubled their efforts and seized the opportunity to quickly address extension challenges arising from restrictions placed by the Rwandan government in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Given that farmers were unable to access support from agronomist and extension officers, AgriGo began providing personalized extension services to the farmers via their mobile phones, helping the farmers to keep up with best practices, improve their yield and production, and increase profitability. In consideration of the farmers’ purchasing power at this critical time, AgriGo also deployed a new pricing model, changing from per unit USSD charges to monthly subscription such that users can gain access to the various AgriGo apps and services the entire duration that the subscription is active. AgriGo’s focus during this period is to ensure optimal product efficiency and have continued to review and adapt their business model while incentivizing its workers through various means to ensure productivity.
Shikama’s message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
"In this part of the world, it is really hard to run a business, there are tons of challenges and every day, you have a valid reason to quit, however, the impact of your work as an agripreneur is way too big to give up! Keep hustling, we will eventually make it. Africa needs people like you! Stay safe and do not lose hope."
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge test of perseverance and tenacity to Toyin Onigbanjo and her team at August Secrets. August Secrets is a...
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge test of perseverance and tenacity to Toyin Onigbanjo and her team at August Secrets. August Secrets is a growing child nutrition brand that provides natural products such as cereals, snacks, recipes, and all-round African-based childcare products for children in their first 1,000 days and beyond. Despite the troubles of the pandemic, Toyin is motivated to keep going “because children need to be fed even in a pandemic and the rest of her team members and staff need to keep earning a living”. Toyin sees this pandemic as an avenue to prioritize care for her customers. To cushion the effect on their customers, August Secrets decided to keep its prices stable despite the nationwide hike in the prices of fresh farm produce following lockdowns and border closure in Nigeria. The company also proceeded to offer free delivery services to its customers, making it easy for their customers to access their products while ensuring consistent sales. To further ensure customer satisfaction, August Secrets intensified their food safety procedures through better hygiene practices along their entire chain of activities from raw material sourcing down to production and logistics. The team also leverages online training and webinars from organizations such as Nourishing Africa to stay informed and updated on opportunities for their business during this time.
Toyin's message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
"My best advice for other agrifood entrepreneurs is to embrace change with a positive mindset. The pandemic has not only affected the health sector but all sectors of the economy, most especially because it is a global situation. It has affected customer behaviors and needs, so rather than feel alone or awkward about the changes, I would encourage that we accept it with an objective mind and keep pushing through regardless."
Covid-19 or not, The Farm is committed to improving the productivity of rural farmers in Malawi. The Farm provides farmers with access to...
Covid-19 or not, The Farm is committed to improving the productivity of rural farmers in Malawi. The Farm provides farmers with access to financing in the form of livestock production inputs, training, veterinary services, and access to competitive markets and prices for their products, ensuring that farmers have a sustainable source of income through the year. In the words of Agnes Kanjala, the CEO at The Farm, “Our motivation to keep going despite the many barriers stems from farmers’ needs of our services, now more than ever”. One of Agnes’ first strategies was to cut down the costs of operations to the minimum. The Farm has also formed ecosystem collaborations and maintained strong relationships with other SMEs and SME networks to learn from the unique experiences and coping mechanisms of other entrepreneurs and apply key strategies and insights shared to their business.
Agnes' message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
"The COVID-19 crisis has presented unique challenges that are a threat to businesses and organizations. However, it is our role to make sure that the food production system is functional to ensure a food secure Africa. This requires us to do hard but necessary things."
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We believe it is important to highlight the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agriculture and food sector as well as the positive and innovative ways entrepreneurs across the sector are pushing on through these hard times.More