Zimbabwean agri-tech startup Hurukuro has launched in a bid to boost rural livelihoods and enhance the productivity of farmers using low-cost, appropriate ICT.
Hurukuro has developed a B2B2C mobile-first, cloud-first solution that serves not only as a decision support system for farmers but also as a transformational solution for rural economies.
With a growing number of farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa now having access to the internet via mobile phones, the startup’s founders believe they have an opportunity to plug a gap in the market that currently sees the ratio of government extension workers to farmers stand at 1:4,300.
“Our solution comes at a critical time for both Zimbabwe and Africa. This year alone millions of farmers and people were affected by adverse weather conditions, which caused poor harvests and famine. A major challenge is that times have changed but farming methods have not done so,” said Hurukuro chief technological officer (CTO) Tawanda Mutukwa.
“In Zimbabwe, we have a mobile penetration rate of over 92 per cent, which makes it possible to create mobile solutions that cover the entire agro value chain.”
Hurukuro’s initial pilot market is with 6,300 farmers in Manicaland province, with the startup having established partnerships with the likes of international NGO EmpowermentWorks and obtaining a franchise from biogas social enterprise B Energy.
“Naturally when you undertake an initiative of this size and nature, it is not just about having a platform to provide information for farmers and facilitating mobile payments but also about impacting rural communities and boosting local agro-based small enterprises by enabling access to potential customers they may never have reached,” said Mutukwa.
The startup uses a combination of SMS and its mobile site to cater for farmers with low bandwidth access and still using dumb phones. Hurukuro is bootstrapped but has obtained an AMPION fellowship and was selected for the 2016 edition of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).
“We have been making money through charging farmers for subscriptions and through offering them training on production methods, however we have been focusing on growth and business development,” said Mutukwa.