Green Shares: Driving smallholder farmers’ financial inclusion, unlocking potential

It is estimated that at least 80 percent of Ugandan farmers are smallholders. Despite their everyday challenges, they contribute the largest share of agricultural production. To help them boost production and increase their incomes, Green Shares, a social enterprise that started operations in 2019, is leveraging technology to unlock their potential and have them financially included.

The firm’s director, Annet Nanyanzi, says the company provides a range of services to farmers to help improve production, productivity, and incomes.

These range from market linkages, agronomy, saving, and access to microloans through partnerships to helping agro-processers to find quality raw materials, among others.

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How Green Shares operates

Once the farmer takes their produce to the community agent, it is verified for quality and quantity, logged onto the Green Shares platform, and payment is triggered and approved. Payment is then effected in real-time using mobile money.

While some farmers don’t have access to phones and mobile money services, Nanyanzi says the platform has a feature that enables them to access their money through their next of kin.

Green Shares mainly deals in the maize, soybeans, and rice value chains. It currently operates in Luweero, Kiryandongo, and Kasese districts.

To date, they have reached 180 farmers, earning Shs 30m, with the volume sourced from farmers estimated at 35 metric tones

Green Shares also provides a platform where investors can inject some money into the company’s Trading Fund for a return.

Apart from paying farmers using its e-platform on mobile money, the company leverages partnerships with microfinance companies in areas where it works to enable them to access credit.

In Luwero for instance, it partnered with Micro Credit for Development and Transformation (MCDT) that provides loans mainly to women to enable them to buy farm inputs and pay labour costs.

Nanyanzi, however, expresses concern that the small-sized farms that the majority of farmers have reduce commercial viability and increase aggregation costs. However, she notes that Green Shares is working on an intervention that will see it leverage farm leasing solutions for farmers.

“A number of landowners are in urban areas with chunks of land in the villages not being utilized. They can lease their land to the farmers through Green Shares for a return,” she says.

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Digital farms

Nanyanzi says the company plans to leverage technology to launch digital farms, starting with Nwoya and Luweero districts, to enable people without land or time to invest in agriculture to own digital farms managed by Green Shares, to increase production and incomes.

“We believe everyone can participate in farming. There are people without time or land to farm but we believe this can be an investment vehicle for even those without farms to own digital farms and earn a return,” she says.

The investor will be able to choose a value chain of preference to invest in and a location with GPS coordinates and timely updates on how the farm is performing.

The farms will also have crop insurance to de-risk losses that agriculture faces.

The company also plans to promote an integrated farming model, which enables farmers to earn income all year round.

The farmers’ platform under development will enable them to profile farmers, track their yield, income, and costs of production to enable them to devise appropriate interventions for higher production and incomes.

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40 Days 40 FinTechs

Green Shares is among the firms participating in the ongoing 40-Days 40-FinTechs initiative, organized by HiPipo in partnership with Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox, and Mojaloop Foundation, and sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

Nanyanzi applauded HiPipo for the initiative, saying that it has provided a platform that enables the wider community to know more about innovations Ugandan entrepreneurs are engaged in.  She adds that it also provides a platform for FinTechs like Green Shares to sketch for potential partnerships, synergies with other FinTechs, and funding opportunities.

The HiPipo Chief Executive Officer Innocent Kawooya says that FinTech is the launch pad on which the promise of full global financial inclusion will be fulfilled.

He adds that FinTech in Africa offers attractive opportunities and investors are rightfully picking interest in the various startups that are offering a plethora of services.

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