New partnership to give farmers digital access to markets

By Deo Waswa

United states Africa development foundation, International center for tropical Agriculture and MasterCard have entered into a public –private partnership to empower tens of thousands of small holder farmers in Uganda.

The partnership which was signed today 10th, July 2019 at Kampala Serena hotel during Farmers summit seeks to extend the reach of the MasterCard Framers Network platform, giving farmers digital access to markets, Valuable inputs and Financial services.

According to Salah Goss, head of MasterCard labs for financial inclusion, the partnership will leverage technologies to improve the agriculture value chain, especially to the farmers, buyers, and value added services providers.

She noted that Buyers can access information about the availability and quality of produces immediately after harvest, and farmers will have real time price information.

“These are just a couple of example of how the MasterCard Farmers network streamlines the interaction between farmers and buyers, while potentially marking it easier for farmers to establish a credit footprint for future loans’’ she added.

Salah noted that, farmers will be provided innovative ideas that have the potential to grow and also have a deep social impact on the lives of rural people living in poverty throughout the country.

According to her, for the several years, the country has registered substantial economic growth but much of this growth has not benefited the rural poor, especially smallholder farmers who are mostly women and who depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

She however, revealed that majority of rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa remain financially excluded, and More than 70% of these families derive a large portion of their income from agricultural activities.

Financial institutions tipped on digital disruption

By Edwin Muhumuza

Eclectics International a technology savvy company transforming Africa through innovative, state of the art tailor-made software solutions for Banking, has advised business organizations engaged in electronic and mobile commerce to be customer focused in ensuring their needs are adequately met even as they integrate technology in business operations .

Paul Mbuga, the Managing Director of Kenyan founded financial technology firm, Eclectics International, while Interfacing with Ugandan bank executives says that growing income through traditional means is no longer sufficient and thus the need to engrain technology.

However introducing technology will require collaboration between vendors and banks. This leads to the question of what revenue sharing model both parties are comfortable with.

‘Majority of our organizations are appreciating that just doing what they know best is not sufficient and therefore they are saying may be 20,30 or 50% of their income line will be generated out of their traditional revenue model.’

In a bid to generate revenue Banks have been doing asset financing for quite some time including cars, machinery, equipment and others and yet software is an asset but it was difficult for them to accept .Mbuga said

Today with the advent of mobile enabled banking technology, that has gained popularity and is customer friendly ,financial Institutions have found out that they are not excellent in that line and that it is expensive to obtain operation licenses. Therefore the way about this is to partner with tech savvy companies .

‘Technology is so radically changing and so frequently that if you buy a license for one business, you will be required to pay a similar amount in order to implement it down the line or change or even upgrade the business model. So partnership comes in handy in a sense that a bank can continue to offer the responsibility line while a company like Eclectics embarks on offering technology, adaptability, continuous research and product support and so the easiest way is to partner on the long term revenue share. The bank does not need to book a depreciating asset in their book because it is more of a long term partnership. ’Mbuga noted.

With technology the question of user friendliness and customer satisfaction is key and in response to that all main participants on the panel agreed that that there was need to put the customer at the centre in getting their experience correct.

Paricipants have been cautioned to make wise choices in regard to who they deal with on matters of personal data, ensuring they plan right at the beginning to defend, detect and recover data in cases of fraud and ensure ethics and transparency is upheld.

To modern Chief Executives, they were tipped that change is inevitable and they need to reflect on whether they will be the ones driving that change or not adding that different vendors represent different solutions and that there is need for participants to define their own solutions in the digital era while considering partnership.

Members on the panel were Jean Swart, Claudius Kurtna, Eclectics MD Paul Mbuga, Red Hat’s Danie Thom and Silla Mulandi.

Eclectics International has been operational for over 10 years and enables financial institutions increase their efficiency and effectiveness by developing, deploying and supporting their proprietary custom made solutions.

Its key focus is in areas of financial inclusion where they partnered with a number of institutions to assist them reach the population at the bottom of the pyramid with financial products that suit them without asking them to conform to conventional banking modalities which are foreign to them. Through this, it boasts of the number of lives that have been reached and changed in the millions across the continent .