Financial Inclusion Challenge

Selected

Agpreneur

Finance, climate-smart training, and market access for farm cooperatives

Team Lead

Michael Iyanro

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Birdpreneur

What is the name of your solution?

Agpreneur

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Finance + Climate-smart training + Market Access for Farm Cooperatives

What specific problem are you solving?

Problem: Smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries face a number of challenges, including limited access to capital, climate change, and market volatility. These challenges make it difficult for them to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

Scale: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are an estimated 500 million smallholder farmers in the world. These farmers produce about 70% of the world's food, but they often face significant challenges in accessing the resources they need to grow their businesses.

Impact: The challenges faced by smallholder farmers and agribusinesses have a significant impact on the global food system. These challenges can lead to food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty. They can also contribute to environmental problems, such as deforestation and soil degradation.

Factors contributing to the problem: The factors contributing to the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and agribusinesses include:

  • Limited access to capital: Smallholder farmers and agribusinesses often lack the access to capital they need to grow their businesses. This can be due to a number of factors, including high interest rates, collateral requirements, and lack of information about financial products and services.
  • Climate change: Climate change is a major threat to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. Changes in weather patterns can lead to crop failures, which can have a devastating impact on farmers' livelihoods.
  • Market volatility: The prices of agricultural commodities are often volatile, which can make it difficult for farmers to plan their production and marketing. This can lead to financial losses and make it difficult for farmers to make a living.
  • There is a need for financing of $158 bn for aquaculture farming in Nigeria, our beachhead market.

    When farmers do get access to capital, there is a negative feedback loop. These farmers fail to utilize lender capital effectively and default on repayment because they:
    - Access needed capital too late following a long and disconnected lender process.
    - Fail to identify key growth aspects of their business which need funding.
    - Spend lender capital inefficiently (i.e. on items with minimal impact of their growth).

What is your solution?

Solution: Birdpreneur is a social enterprise that provides smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in Nigeria with access to affordable financing, training on climate-smart farming practices, and access to buyers.

How it works: Birdpreneur uses a combination of online and offline channels to provide its services. Online, Birdpreneur has a website and a mobile app. Offline, Birdpreneur has a network of field agents who work with farmers in person.

Technology: Birdpreneur uses a variety of technologies to provide its services, including:

  • A proprietary AI underwriting algorithm that assesses the risk of lending to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.
  • A climate-smart farming training platform that provides farmers with access to training on climate-smart farming practices.
  • A buyer connection platform that connects farmers with buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce.

Benefits: Birdpreneur's solution provides a number of benefits to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, including:

  • Access to affordable financing: Birdpreneur provides smallholder farmers and agribusinesses with access to affordable financing. This helps them to cover the costs of production, such as seeds, fertilizer, and equipment.
  • Training on climate-smart farming practices: Birdpreneur provides smallholder farmers and agribusinesses with training on climate-smart farming practices. This helps them to adapt to the challenges of climate change and to increase their productivity.
  • Access to buyers: Birdpreneur connects smallholder farmers and agribusinesses with buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce. This helps farmers to get a better return on their investment and to grow their businesses.

Impact: Birdpreneur's solution has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. We are committed to working hard to achieve our impact goals and to making a positive difference in the world

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Target population: Birdpreneur's solution serves smallholder farmers and agribusinesses (aquaculture, livestock, and crop) in Nigeria and developing countries. These farmers produce about 70% of the world's food, but they often face significant challenges in accessing the resources they need to grow their businesses.

Underserved: Smallholder farmers and agribusinesses are often underserved by traditional financial institutions. This is because they often lack the collateral and credit history that banks require. As a result, they are often forced to borrow money from informal lenders at high-interest rates. This can make it difficult for them to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

Impact: Birdpreneur's solution addresses the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and agribusinesses by providing them with access to affordable financing, training on climate-smart farming practices, and access to buyers. This helps them to increase their productivity and profitability and to improve their livelihoods.









How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Team: Birdpreneur is a team of experienced professionals with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. Our team includes:

  • Farmers: Our team includes farmers who have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. This gives us a deep understanding of the needs of the farmers and agribusinesses we serve.
  • Business professionals: Our team also includes business professionals with experience in finance, marketing, and operations. This gives us the skills and expertise we need to develop and deliver our solution.

Community engagement: We are committed to engaging with the communities we serve throughout the design and implementation of our solution. We do this by:

  • Conducting regular surveys and interviews with farmers and agribusinesses. This helps us to understand their needs and priorities.
  • Holding regular community meetings and workshops. This gives farmers and agribusinesses a chance to provide feedback on our solution and to help us to shape its development.
  • Working with local partners. We partner with local organizations that have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. This helps us to build trust and credibility with the communities we serve.

Design: The design of our solution is guided by the input, ideas, and agendas of the communities we serve. We believe that this is essential to ensuring that our solution is relevant, effective, and sustainable.

Implementation: We are committed to implementing our solution in a way that is participatory and inclusive. We believe that this is essential to ensuring that our solution is owned and sustained by the communities we serve.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Provide new ways to accurately assess credit-worthiness of MSMEs and individuals, including methods that reduce bias against borrowers who have traditionally lacked equitable access to credit

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Abeokuta

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • Nigeria

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

Currently, Birdpreneur serves over 30,000 members of registered farm cooperatives in Nigeria, as well as industrial buyers looking to purchase farm produce. In addition, our BirdSchool platform has trained over 20,500 farmers in smart farming techniques, providing them with the knowledge and skills to improve their productivity and profitability. With our on-demand loan facility, we have processed over 1200 loans, disbursing almost $1.5 million at a 99% repayment rate, helping farmers access the capital they need to invest in their farms and grow their businesses.









Why are you applying to Solve?

Birdpreneur is applying to Solve because we believe that the program's network and resources can help us overcome several barriers that we face. Specifically, we are looking for support in scaling our operations, expanding our network of buyers and sellers, and raising additional funds to invest in our technology and team. We also hope to connect with partners who can provide us with technical expertise in areas such as data analysis, AgTech, and digital marketing. We believe that Solve can help us achieve our goal of transforming the aquaculture industry in Nigeria and driving sustainable growth for smallholder farmers.









In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Michael Iyanro

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Birdpreneur's solution is innovative because it approaches the problem of access to capital for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries in a new and significantly improved way. We use a combination of technology and human expertise to assess the risk of lending to these farmers, which allows us to offer them more affordable financing than they would be able to get from traditional lenders. We also offer training on climate-smart farming practices and access to buyers, which helps these farmers to increase their productivity and profitability.

Our solution could catalyze broader positive impacts from others in this space by demonstrating that it is possible to provide affordable financing to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries. This could encourage other companies to enter the market and offer similar products and services. Our solution could also change the market by making it easier for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses to access the capital they need to grow their businesses.

Here are some specific examples of how our solution is innovative:

  • We use a proprietary risk assessment algorithm that takes into account a variety of factors, including the farmer's credit history, the crop they are growing, and the weather conditions in their region. This allows us to offer more affordable financing to these farmers than they would be able to get from traditional lenders.
  • We offer training on climate-smart farming practices that help farmers to increase their productivity and profitability. This training is tailored to the specific needs of the farmer and the crop they are growing.
  • We connect farmers with buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce. This helps farmers to get a better return on their investment and to grow their businesses.

We believe that our solution has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries. We are committed to working with these farmers to help them to grow their businesses and to improve their livelihoods.


What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Our impact goals for the next year and the next five years are as follows:

Next Year

  • Increase the number of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses that we serve by 50%.
  • Disburse $1 million in loans to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.
  • Train 10,000 farmers in climate-smart farming practices.
  • Connect 1,000 farmers with buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce.

Next Five Years

  • Increase the number of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses that we serve by 100%.
  • Disburse $10 million in loans to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.
  • Train 100,000 farmers in climate-smart farming practices.
  • Connect 10,000 farmers with buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce.

We plan to achieve these goals by:

  • Expanding our operations to new countries in Africa.
  • Developing new products and services to meet the needs of our customers.
  • Partnering with other organizations that are working to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.

We believe that these goals are ambitious but achievable. We are committed to working hard to achieve them and to making a positive impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 14. Life Below Water
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Here are some specific indicators that we are using to measure our progress toward our impact goals:

  • Number of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses served: This indicator tracks the number of farmers and agribusinesses that we have provided with access to financing, training, or access to buyers.
  • Amount of loans disbursed: This indicator tracks the total amount of loans that we have disbursed to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.
  • Number of farmers trained: This indicator tracks the number of farmers that we have trained in climate-smart farming practices.
  • Number of farmers connected to buyers: This indicator tracks the number of farmers that we have connected to buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce.

We believe that these indicators are a good way to measure our progress toward our impact goals. They allow us to track the number of farmers and agribusinesses that we are serving, the amount of financing that we are providing, and the impact that we are having on their lives.

We are also working to develop additional indicators to measure our impact. For example, we are developing indicators to track the increase in crop yields, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and the improvement in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

We believe that it is important to measure our impact so that we can track our progress and make sure that we are making a positive difference in the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.


What is your theory of change?

Here is our theory of change:

Problem: Smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries face a number of challenges, including limited access to capital, climate change, and market volatility. These challenges make it difficult for them to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

Solution: Birdpreneur provides smallholder farmers and agribusinesses with access to affordable financing, training on climate-smart farming practices, and access to buyers. This helps them to increase their productivity and profitability, and to improve their livelihoods.

Impact: We believe that our solution can have a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. By providing them with access to the capital, knowledge, and markets they need, we can help them to grow their businesses, improve their livelihoods, and contribute to the development of their communities.

Evidence: We have a number of pieces of evidence that support our theory of change. For example, a study by the World Bank found that access to finance can increase agricultural productivity by up to 20%. Additionally, a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that climate-smart farming practices can increase yields by up to 25%.

We believe that our theory of change is sound and that our solution has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. We are committed to working hard to achieve our impact goals and to making a positive difference in the world.


Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Here is a description of the core technology that powers our solution:

  • AI underwriting algorithm: We use a proprietary AI underwriting algorithm to assess the risk of lending to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. This algorithm takes into account a variety of factors, including the farmer's credit history, the crop they are growing, and the weather conditions in their region. This allows us to offer more affordable financing to these farmers than they would be able to get from traditional lenders.
  • Climate-smart farming training: We offer training on climate-smart farming practices that help farmers to increase their productivity and profitability. This training is tailored to the specific needs of the farmer and the crop they are growing.
  • Buyer connection platform: We connect farmers with buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for their produce. This helps farmers to get a better return on their investment and to grow their businesses.

We believe that these technologies are essential to our solution. They allow us to provide smallholder farmers and agribusinesses with the access to capital, knowledge, and markets they need to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

In addition to these technologies, we also leverage traditional, ancestral, and natural technologies and knowledge systems. For example, we work with farmers to use centuries-old irrigation and building techniques. We also work with farmers to develop plant-based solutions that can reduce the effects of climate change.

We believe that by combining traditional and modern technologies, we can create a more sustainable and equitable future for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.


Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • Blockchain
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Imaging and Sensor Technology
  • Internet of Things
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Nigeria

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

Our solution team currently consists of 15 full-time staff, 2 part-time staff, and 3 contractors who work with us on specific projects.

How long have you been working on your solution?

5 years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Our solution team is committed to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into our work. Our leadership team includes individuals from diverse backgrounds, and we are actively seeking to increase diversity among our staff and contractors. We believe that diverse perspectives and experiences are critical to achieving our mission and creating impactful solutions.

To foster a culture of equity and inclusivity, we have implemented several initiatives. We provide training and resources for all staff on unconscious bias, cultural competency, and inclusive communication. We also regularly review our policies and practices to ensure that they promote equity and inclusivity, and we seek feedback from our staff and stakeholders on ways we can improve.

Furthermore, we actively engage with community organizations and groups that represent diverse populations to ensure that our solutions are designed with their needs and perspectives in mind. We are committed to creating solutions that benefit all members of society, and we believe that diversity, equity, and inclusivity are essential components of achieving that goal.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Here is a description of our business model:

Customers and beneficiaries: Our customers are smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries. Our beneficiaries are the people who eat the food that these farmers produce.

Products and services: We provide smallholder farmers and agribusinesses with access to affordable financing, training on climate-smart farming practices, and access to buyers.

How we provide products and services: We provide our products and services through a combination of online and offline channels. Online, we have a website and a mobile app. Offline, we have a network of field agents who work with farmers in person.

Why customers want or need our products and services: Farmers want or need our products and services because they help them to grow their businesses, improve their livelihoods, and contribute to the development of their communities.

Revenue model: We generate revenue from a variety of sources, including:

  • Interest on loans
  • Fees for training and other services
  • Commissions from sales made through our buyer connection platform

We believe that our business model is sustainable and scalable. We are committed to using our profits to reinvest in our business and to expand our reach to more farmers and agribusinesses.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Here is our plan for becoming financially sustainable:

  • We plan to generate revenue from a variety of sources, including:

    • Interest on loans: We will charge interest on the loans that we make to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. The interest rate will be set at a level that is fair to both the farmers and Birdpreneur.
    • Fees for training and other services: We will charge fees for our training and other services. The fees will be set at a level that is affordable for the farmers and that will cover the cost of providing the services.
    • Commissions from sales made through our buyer connection platform: We will receive commissions from sales made through our buyer connection platform. The commissions will be set at a level that is fair to both the farmers and Birdpreneur.
  • We plan to use our profits to:

    • Reinvest in our business: We will use our profits to reinvest in our business, such as by expanding our operations, developing new products and services, and hiring more staff.
    • Expand our reach to more farmers and agribusinesses: We plan to expand our reach to more farmers and agribusinesses in developing countries. We believe that by expanding our reach, we can have a greater impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.
  • We plan to become financially sustainable within five years. We believe that our business model is sustainable and scalable. We are committed to using our profits to reinvest in our business and to expand our reach to more farmers and agribusinesses.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Here are some examples of how our plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far:

  • We have received a number of grants from foundations and government agencies. These grants have helped us to cover the costs of our operations and to develop our products and services.
  • We have generated revenue from a variety of sources, including interest on loans, fees for training and other services, and commissions from sales made through our buyer connection platform. The revenue that we have generated has helped us to cover our costs and to reinvest in our business.
  • We have raised investment funding from a number of investors. This investment funding has helped us to expand our operations and to reach more farmers and agribusinesses.

We believe that our plan to achieve financial sustainability is sound and that we are on track to become financially sustainable within five years. We are grateful for the support of our funders and investors, and we are committed to using our resources to make a positive impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.


Solution Team

 
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