Basic Information

Our tagline:

Freeing smallholder farmer customers from rainfed agriculture, enabling income growth by cultivating crops on their own terms.

Our pitch:

Tens of millions of smallholder farmers across sub-saharan Africa have inadequate access to a sustainable water source, forced to rely on highly inconsistent rain. Additionally, even during rainy seasons, farmers grow crops at the same time, flooding the market simultaneously when crops mature, depressing product prices and farmers income further.

We open up a farmers' ability to market their crops effectively by offering an IoT connected solar-powered irrigation system. The solar panel provides power to the pumps motor, irrigating a 1/4-to-1 acre plot of land depending on season and water level, so farmers do not have to rely on rainwater.

The pump package is affordable on a loan (Pay-As-You-Go shutoff) basis, and payable over mobile money prevalent in Africa. It will collect agronomical data from the farm, including humidity and temperature, and even image their crop, so we can advise the farmers how to grow under their new irrigation regime.

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:


The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:

  • Upskilling, Reskilling, and Job Matching
About Your Solution

What makes our solution innovative:

Our go-to-market pump, the Sunstart Moneymaker pump has a very low estimated annual cost (up to 50%) compared to gasoline pumps. Our solar water pump offering is particularly special for being offered on a pay-as-you-go business model, so the farmer only pays 10% up-front as a down payment. This will reduce the burden of the initial upfront investment to the farmers, increase uptake of this technology and therefore increase water productivity. Other marketers of solar irrigation can also be seen as competition, but they also represent useful collaborative stakeholders, so we don't generally lump them in the pure competition category.

How technology is integral to our solution:

The pump's initial connectivity is limited to facilitating loan repayment as made via mobile money + manually typed SMS keycodes. When we pivot as planned to our IoT + cloud enabled model of irrigation agronomy advisory, based on an upgraded controller with agronomical remote monitoring. Then our scale is magnified by orders of magnitude, as we won't be limited by working capital-based growth requirements.

Our solution goals over the next 12 months:

We measure success by measuring the income growth and qualitative livelihood improvement that farmers under our purview undergo. Also, as a for-profit venture, we naturally measure success in terms of return to our own investors. Over the next year, we set out as goals:
To deliver 450 pumps and monitoring the impact they have on customers.
To develop our own specified IoT controller.
To validate our working capital raising model by engaging with a large development finance institution to fund pump loans to farmers under our irrigation advisory support.

Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:

Currently we procure and sell the pumps themselves. Later as more regional entrepreneurs demonstrate themselves, and in order to shed our own working capital burden, we will support them and their market engagement with our own agronomic advisory built from marketing solar irrigation systems and ensuring effective payback firsthand.

By continuing to occupy the irrigation agronomy advisory layer, in releasing other layers of the value chain to others (on a country-by-country basis), we ensure payback of the pumps, lower interest interest from MFI's, and therefore much more rapid scale and uptake of the solar irrigation market across all industry stakeholders.

The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:

  • East and Southeast Asia

How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:

Our customer persona is eager to try new farming technologies and grow new vegetables that they lacked the means to cultivate before. They have been unable to avail of irrigation effectively due to the high up-front cost.

Our solution contributes to greater inclusion in the digital economy because the farmers become more acclimated to transacting and receiving information over a digital channel (their phone) in interacting with our irrigation support platform. As they climb the income ladder and avail of smartphones, we will have cloud / app offerings that facilitate their irrigation agronomy instruction through animated videos.

How many people we are currently serving with our solution:

With respect to the Pay-As-You-Go units we offer, we are one-third the way into our 30-unit sales pilot where we monitor customer's income and livelihood improvement through a meticulous before-and-after survey.
About Your Team

How our solution team is organized:


Explaining our organization:

Sunny Irrigation was formally established in November 2017. Sunny Irrigation and Greenserve entered into progressively joint operations from June 2018.<br><br>Logistically, our business model is decentralized with a warehouse and a service center in Nairobi and a network of commissioned agents who work as the technicians and sales agents in our focus areas. <br>

How many people work on our solution team:


How many years we have been working on our solution:

Less than 1 year

The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:

Chief Team Builder and CEO: Rick Sheridan is an engineer turned social entrepreneur. He has worked in the US, Asia and Africa in technology, manufacturing, business development and consulting roles. Rick holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace with Information Technology from MIT and an MBA from INSEAD. He speaks English and Mandarin.

Chief of Marketing: Daniel Muhia established Greenserve to offer solutions to Agribusinesses in Kenya and in the region. Before, he worked with Latia Resource Center, in Kenya, in charge of new business development. Daniel is responsible for marketing, strategic relationships and business development. He speaks English and Swahili.
Partnership Potential

Why we are applying to Solve:

Depending finally on the support given by Solve, we will work through our milestones according to this priority:

1. Demonstrate positive unit economics (to demonstrate sufficiently low Customer Acquisition Cost vs. customer lifetime value)
2. Development of the IoT controller, with cloud backend, to be applied to at least the final 1/3 of the 450 units by the time it is ready.
3. Demonstrate in a statistically significant way the positive livelihood impact by selling 450 pump units

The key barriers for our solution:

We feel the greatest barrier is if we will struggle to show the repayment rate from the industry's historical of 80% to our target of 95%. Alternatively even if we do in fact achieve the 95% payback rate, there remains to be seen whether excessively high cost of following up with our customers is required to achieve that repayment rate.

The second risk that we face, as shared by all hardware-based ventures everywhere, is the risk of epidemic product quality failure in the field.

The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:

  • Other (Please Explain Below)

Solution Team

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