Agri-tech startup Zazu, a digital marketplace connecting farmers to buyers, has launched in Zambia after leaving Zimbabwe for currency reasons.
Launched in October 2015, Zazu allows farmers with extra produce to connect with new markets, while buyers are provided with a more sophisticated and easy way to order more produce for less.
Uptake was strong in Zimbabwe, with Zazu signing up 9,000 farmers interacting through SMS on the platform, and making good money. However, currency issues forced the startup to think about relocating, initially to South Africa.
It has now launched in Zambia, where it currently has eight partnerships underway with small traders, luxury hotels and multinational companies looking to source smarter from local farmers.
“2016 saw us travel to Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa in search for product market fit. Anybody who has ever built a tech-enabled business will attest to the difficulties. Early on, we learnt that smallholder farmers can only succeed if a variety of factors are present, for the same market failures we exist to solve, also complicate life for us,” said Zazu founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Perseus Mlambo.
“Firstly, there needs to be a network conducive to the facilitation of agro-inputs, content providers, and last but not least, market actors led by empathy and not greed. And we are inching closer towards attaining this goal.”
Mlambo said after months of developing partnerships, Zazu’s model has been widely received in Zambia, with its presence in the country growing each day.
“At Zazu, we are powered by a resolute belief that the role of effective and functional agricultural markets in financing exits for the world’s 500 million farmers from poverty cannot and should not be understated,” he said.