Greetings NINAYO friends,

2019 was our best year yet. We made significant impact in the lives of some of the world’s poorest and hardest working people. As we begin 2020, our company is scaling those services, as well as building an exciting new product.

Context

Today NINAYO is delivering agro inputs to maize farmers in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, as it has for hundreds of farmers this season. What is so special about this? For starters, last year the maize harvests of these farmers were wiped out by worms that attacked their seeds and left them hungry and indebted.

NINAYO can help the Dodoma farmers, not only to do better than last year, but better than ever.

Here are the primary three services we are providing (another is in the works for next update):

1. Discounted agro inputs via e-commerce

2. Digital agronomist services

3. Digital Warehouse Receipt System (THE BIG INNOVATION)

1. Discounted agro inputs
Farmers struggle to procure the agro inputs they need for a host of reasons: prices are too high, it’s difficult to budget between harvest and planting, and the massive counterfeit industry of fake inputs. NINAYO solves this by using our data of when a farmer has made a sale, and during that brief moment when the “bottom of the pyramid” has money, we sell them agro inputs more affordably. We partner directly with the agro dealers and not only pass on bulk rate savings, but we are ensuring genuine goods direct from the manufacturer.

This not only solves a big problem for millions of farmers, but it positions NINAYO as an essential sales channel for the multi-billion dollar agro input sector.

This service was piloted in the summer and is already scaling up. NINAYO is operating a warehouse and multiple aggregation points. With over 400 e-commerce transactions completed, it is accurate to say that NINAYO has a greater e-commerce footprint than Amazon and Jumia combined for agriculture in the Dodoma region of Tanzania. It would also be slightly misleading, but we are proudly pioneering new e-commerce services and the results have been positive. We could not even keep up with our demand towards the season.

2. Digital agronomist services

Farmers often lack the information to protect their harvests from climate, bugs, diseases and other threats to their harvests. NINAYO provides this information in real time via WhatsApp groups. We also provide trainings so farmers without WhatsApp can access the services as well.

The process is simple, but essential. Our trained agronomist provides real time feedback to the farmers who post pictures or questions about their harvests in WhatsApp groups. It’s true that many farmers do not have WhatsApp yet, but enough do such that we are able to reach 1000’s of farmers by working with coordinated groups.

(A farmer posts a picture of his diseased sunflower, our agronomist informs him that it is infected with Downey Mildew, the farmer proceeds to order the proper medication through NINAYO)

3. Digital Warehouse Receipt System (THE BIG INNOVATION)

First off, we would love your suggestions for naming this product. Digital Warehouse Receipts System does not roll off the tongue. We will likely have two names for it, one for investors and a Swahili version for farmers. Here’s the value proposition:

The price of maize fluctuates throughout the year. Prices are low at harvest and tends to double approaching the next harvest. Middlemen make a lot of money out of this delta, while farmers rarely do.

In May, NINAYO is piloting a tool that will enable farmers to own their harvests digitally. NINAYO trucks will pick up, grade and store the farmers maize- like any other middleman. However, via a USSD system that works on any phone, farmers can decide when to sell their maize, and how much to sell.

NINAYO deducts its costs and a 4% commission, then pays the farmer directly on their phone via mobile money. Based on 12 years of historical price data, we estimate farmers will capture a 30% increase in their incomes by using our system. Meanwhile this puts NINAYO on track to being one of Africa’s major food companies without having to own the food itself.

By getting the operations of this Digital Warehouse Receipt System running this summer, NINAYO is building the infrastructure to finance smallholder farmers, provide climate-smart agricultural solutions and modernize the sector. These innovations will empower communities to embrace farming as a traditional lifestyle, and not simply a means to survive.

Epiphany Day

Today is the Swedish / Christian holiday of “Epiphany Day” and it marks 5 years since my board members and I sat down to officially form NINAYO. Since then we’ve been funded, advised, incubated, acquired, pivoted, failed, pivoted, and grown again. I can honestly say that our Digital Warehouse Receipt System has me more excited by its promise than any product before. 2020 will be a big year for NINAYO.

I am sincerely grateful to everyone who has enabled me to pursue my vision for improving African agriculture with technology. This year I must extend a big THANK YOU to our local partners who made 2019 so great: The Dutch Development Agency SNV, The World Food Program, Palladium Group, our investors for continued support and insights, and the NINAYO Team for working hard to reach our milestones.

Let’s all do great work in 2020!

Sincerely,

Jack Langworthy
CEO, NINAYO Inc

CEO of @NINAYOcom, East Africa's online trading platform for agriculture. Dedicated to building great technology in emerging markets.

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