Somalian agri-tech startup Ari.farm has bootstrapped its way to acquiring customers from 35 countries across the world by enabling anyone to become a livestock trader.
Launched at the end of 2016, Ari.farm is an online platform that enables users to buy, own and sell livestock online, while the animals themselves are taken care of at its two farms in Somalia, where it is creating jobs and a market for nomads.
Each week the startup’s team in Somalia reports local livestock prices on its app, with users then able to digitally purchase any animals they want, such as goats, sheep and camels. The team handles the physical purchase of the animals from nomads, moves them to its farms, and takes care of them.
Users can follow local livestock prices on the app, and can decide to sell their animals if the prices increase. If they do decide to sell, the Ari.farm team does it on their behalf in the local market, and users are paid via the app. The startup also sells milk from camels, with online owners accessing a share of these revenues every quarter.
“When I started the company my mission was to create jobs for nomads in Somalia,” Ari.farm founder Mohamed Jimale told Disrupt Africa. “Livestock is already big in Somalia and it is the only assets that nomads have. So it was obvious to me that this was where we could make a real impact.”
Jimale realised crowd-farming via technology could improve what is a very traditional industry, and allow anyone with a smartphone to participate.
And participate they have done. Ari.farm has built up a customer base from 35 countries on five continents, including a host of European nations and countries such as South Korea, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The interest in this project has been amazing,” said Jimale.
All of this has been achieved by bootstrapping, with Ari.farm not having spent any money on marketing.
“We have been able to cover our costs through our own operations,” Jimale said. “We currently have farming operations in Somalia and we are planning to expand to Kenya this year.”
Ari.farm makes money in two ways, firstly through commissions earned when it sells animals on behalf of users.
“But the most important revenues come from sales of by-products such as the camel milk. The demand for camel milk is very high in Somalia. So far we have done about US$200,000 in revenues,” Jimale said.