Kenya being an agricultural economy means most people would automatically make a fortune selling produce. However, earning a living through agriculture and sale of fresh produce proves hard not just for the farmer but the retailers known as ‘mama mboga’. Most times, unscrupulous middlemen hike prices at will leaving the retailers to make marginal profits or sometimes nothing at all. This, the retailers do so as not to lose their customers.
How then can technology and innovation solve this?
Mobile technology since the 1999 has grown exponentially in Kenya. In the year 2000 only 180,000 wealthy Kenyans had access to mobile phones. That number has been multiplied significantly as more than 31 million Kenyans now have access to mobile phones representing about 82% of the population.
SokoText, a smart solution to enabling entrepreneurs in urban slums get wholesale prices for fresh produce, does its magic by using the power of text messaging to aggregate demand for food.
SokoText recognizes the fact that these small-scale retailers don’t have the purchasing power to buy in bulk or even pay for the transport costs of getting to collection markets.
By understanding this, SokoText enables these farmers to source for produce earlier in the supply chain reducing the cost of their purchase by up to 30%. This is a huge difference in the business and ensures end-consumers benefit.
When retailers get the produce cheaply, the consumer then benefits by getting their fresh vegetables at a much cheaper price. In Mathare for-instance, where SokoText has carried out research since 2013, their innovation saves families 20% in food costs. 20% is a lot and means the families get an extra meal for the day.
Founded by a team lead by Kenyan-Indian Suraj Gudka who is the CEO, the team that hails from Germany, UK, Colombia, Canada and Kenya is certainly on a mission.
SokoText believes that business model innovation is key to creating a more just and sustainable world and it’s certainly a great startup.
Be sure to check in with Nairobi Garage for more amazing startups.