Agriculture remains the economic backbone of many African countries. Although there have been reforms in many African states to modernize agriculture, farming is largely done in the traditional manner. In addition, funding remains a challenge, leaving farmers with little or no capital to do commercial farming.
To mitigate this challenge on the continent, a Gambian entrepreneur has created The Gambia’s first agric-tech crowd funding platform so as to link farmers to investors. Modou Nsz Njie created Money Farm in 2018 and it works by matching farmers with investors particularly those in the diaspora who would invest in their ventures to help them scale their business.
Moduo is an IT specialist in database management with a combined experience of 20 years. He has served as IT manager for two banks in the Gambia. He told Techinafrica that Money Farm was born due to red tape and funding challenges in the agric sector in The Gambia and other African states.
“Due to these frustrations which often mean most farmers cannot gain access to loans i came up with the idea of setting a crowd funding platform to address this issue,” he said. “This was how Money Farm Gambia was born.”
He built Money Farm himself with zero seed funding and as of 2019 raised $20,000 from six investors and farmers who have been on board since September 2018 when the startup officially started operations.
According to Moduo, he chose The Gambian market because it is relatively peaceful and stable. Also, it is a popular tourist destination and well known for agricultural produce like groundnut/peanut and cotton. “Gambians are very entrepreneurial in nature and entrepreneurs including farmers form the bulk of the working population,” he added.
Money Farm has not been without challenges, Muduo said. He listed finding investors as challenging due to a lack of awareness and trust. To this end, he wants the Gambian government to have a sound entrepreneurial policy and act which will give priority to Gambian entrepreneurs.
“At the moment there is a lot of foreign dominance in our markets over 80% of our food and goods are imported. Gambian startups should be given the opportunity to compete in terms of supplying needed goods and services which are often given to Non Gambians. The importation of fresh produce can also be controlled so that local produce can thrive,” he said.
The future of The Gambia and Africa looks promising as more and more people in Africa have embraced entrepreneurship and innovation, he said. “Gambia can potentially become a good model for Africa if the right mindset is in place amongst entrepreneurs and the government.”