Kenyan startup Mifugo.trade is seeking to raise US$100,000 in angel funding, with the funds set to enable the company to digitise livestock trading in Kenya.
Speaking to Disrupt Africa, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Mifugo.trade, Taylor Tully, says the livestock trade provides livelihoods for over six million pastoralists in Kenya, however, the fragmented and inefficient processes involved in livestock exchanges limit the income of traders.
“The Kenyan livestock industry provides livelihoods for approximately 6 million pastoralists. However, pastoralists in remote areas have limited or no direct access to terminal markets due to poor infrastructure. Consequently, pastoralists are forced to rely on an inefficient network of local markets and middlemen,” Tully explains.
“This long chain of middlemen generates substantial transaction costs which are passed onto producers through low prices for their livestock. These low prices reduces income and negatively impact pastoralist livelihoods,” he says.
Tully believes technology can change this.
In particular, he says the boom in mobile adoption across East Africa presents the possibility for the whole livestock market to be digitised, and as a result has the potential to completely change the way livestock is traded.
“In the past decade, Africa and particularly East Africa has experienced a massive surge in mobile usage and ICT. This technological evolution has fundamentally transformed the economies of many African countries, most exemplified by M-Pesa and its impact on the financial sector and money transfer ecosystem. Mobile technology can have the same impact on the livestock sector, particularly with the increasing popularity of smartphones and expansion of mobile broadband,” Tully says.
“We see a large and growing opportunity to leverage mobile technology and transform the entire livestock value chain, from livestock inputs and production to transport, processing, and distribution.”
The Mifugo.trade platform is an online livestock exchange that directly connects livestock producers and buyers. The startup uses a network of trained assessing agents equipped with smartphones, who visit livestock sellers, evaluate animals, and upload relevant information on a sale to the platform. Buyers can then bid for animals online.
Mifugo.trade goes further, and is in the process of integrating a range of payment solutions – such as mobile money payments, escrow options and invoice discounting – to facilitate payments and cut out cash transactions; as well as assisting in the arrangement of transportation following a purchase.
According to Tully, bringing the world of livestock trading into the digital space will benefit traders by increasing access to information and services, but also by connecting rural and urban players working in the same industry.
Overall, he says Mifugo.trade has the power to increase livestock prices for sellers by 20 per cent; while buyers also benefit from not having to travel country-wide to source livestock, and as such can concentrate on their core business.
Launched in May this year, Mifugo.trade is already working with groups representing over 2,000 pastoralists, but hopes to roll out across Kenya on the back of more fully developed platform which it hopes to launch in the coming months. Eventually, Mifugo.trade hopes to digitise the livestock market across the whole of Africa.
“Mifugo.trade wants to fundamentally transform the livestock supply chain in Kenya, and hopefully throughout Africa. We are following a global trend of digital marketplaces disrupting existing sectors. We want to bring the same transformative power of digital marketplaces to the livestock sector in Kenya. In the future, we see online livestock exchanges becoming the preferred way to trade livestock and an industry standard throughout Africa,” Tully says.
To achieve this goal, Mifugo.trade is currently seeking US$100,000 to build out the platform, adding new functionality and improving the interface; as well as providing the funds to fuel expansion across Kenya.