In many parts of rural Uganda, accessing a bank is almost impossible. Even when you chance on one, the red tape involved in accessing credit is unbelievable, especially in agricultural financing.
So, farmers usually rely on SACCOs and money lenders to survive. Most of these however come with high interest rates and they never supplement their service with any extension services.
Faced with similar challenges, Vicky Ayugi Lakot, a dealer in agricultural farm inputs in northern Uganda, would always use her phone to look for any farming techniques and market information. But about three years ago, while browsing her phone, she landed on the EzyAgric mobile application that has since changed her life.
“I picked an interest in using the EzyAgric App and I downloaded it. I have used it since then because of the many services it offers such as farming techniques, inputs, saving, and loans,” she says.
EzyAgric is an Agriculture Technology company started in 2016 to provide end-to-end agricultural solutions to both farmers and businesses operating in the agricultural landscape in Uganda.
Lakot says that on top of the market information, EzyAgric has provided both convenience and accessibility, especially for rural dwellers like herself. For instance, because most people in villages use mobile money to transact, EzyAgric has introduced a standardized withdrawal charge which is way cheaper than the charges by telecom companies.
“We use this platform to save money and EzyAgric has subsidized transaction charges…if you are withdrawing like 10 million and above, they have subsidized it to Shs 5,000 which favors us,” she explains.
According to Mercy Angela Nantongo, the product manager at EzyAgric, the primary inspiration for this platform is to make agriculture enjoyable because it remains Uganda’s backbone.
“So, we realised that farmers and Agro SMEs were struggling to find agricultural information and cheap and easy credit…. we came up with a platform where they can access digital payments, access credit and save money at the same time,” she says.
On top of finances, farmers are offered digital advisory and extension services, farm plans, how to keep record books, and access to genuine agro-inputs.
“With Easy Credits that we launched this year with Agro SMEs, we have been offering loans of between Shs 10,000 and Shs 2m. We are further working with more than 60 suppliers of genuine agro-inputs to deliver these inputs to farmers and agro-businesses across the country. In the past year, we added more than 17,000 farmers to our platform and sold to over 300 merchants and agro SMEs,” she says.
She adds that they have delivered extension services to more than 170,000 Ugandans through partnerships with entities like Airtel.
Lakot says that with EzyAgric’s buy-now-pay-later model, Agro merchants like herself are now able to stock their shops and have access to inputs on credit such that they can pay back within seven days. This is helping them reduce the cost of stock because when farmers come to purchase from them, they have the stock in-house.
“We also have real-time credit storing especially when our customer expresses a need for credit. We have them signup on their phones and their eligibility is checked in real-time. If they qualify for credit, they also get credit scores immediately. This means that as soon as you sign up for your profile, you can access EzyAgric credit,” Nantongo says.
40 Days 40 FinTechs.
According to Nantongo, the 40 Days 40 FinTechs was their launchpad for the buy-now-pay-later product.
“We were able to test the solution and prototype it with the FinTech [incubator program by HiPipo] and roll it out to the customers who are now enjoying the product,” she says.
Now in its fourth season, HiPipo’s 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative has become a household name in the financial technology space of the East African region. In the last three editions, more than 100 FinTechs have been showcased, highlighting stories changing people’s lives, especially in the under-served sectors.
This initiative is run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies with support generous from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Life-changing stories from more than 100 FinTechs have been highlighted by this initiative in the past three years.