Too many projects are invented in offices, far removed from farmers and their needs. But this initiative was different: working with Gerald Otim, David studied producers’ needs and expectations, and looked at existing solutions. Building on their in-depth knowledge of the target area and their understanding of local problems in rural Uganda, David and Gerald quickly saw a key gap. Their idea was simple – to provide an innovative service for farmers that would help them to get access to financing.
They developed their solution – an information system facilitating access to loans and financing for small farmers – in cooperation with savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs). These cooperatives encourage savings and provide loans. There are thousands of SACCOs in Uganda, with about 18 million members in rural areas. However, their impact is limited and this is notably because they lack appropriate information technology.
Local solutions to local problems
The idea of the Ensibuuko app was good and the partnerships created helped considerably in achieving its success.
The application was developed in the framework of a regional hackathon (AgriHack) organised in 2013 by CTA’s Agriculture Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society (ARDYIS) project as part of the ICT4Ag international conference in Kigali, Rwanda. “After becoming regional winners of the hackathon, we benefitted from a six-month incubation at Outbox, an ICT centre in Kampala. We also benefitted from mentoring and coaching by several leaders in the field,” said David.
Since then, Ensibuuko has recruited eight employees, including several young women developers, and has attracted international partners.
They were also involved in other CTA activities such as the Plug and Play Day at the Fin4Ag international conference held in 2014; this allowed them to pitch their product to the public and to potential partners. The Government of Uganda, for example, encourages SACCOs to adopt MOBIS. Mercy Corps and Microsoft in Uganda are other partners for the deployment and uptake of the services. Ensibuuko has now diversified its services offering also access to solar energy to farmers.
More than 10,000 Ugandan farmers are now using MOBIS.
Find out more at http://www.ensibuuko.com/
Initially published on the EU website on July 16th in the framework of the European Year of Development 2015 celebrations
Republished in the framework of International Youth Day. Read more at: bit.ly/1DJGfUP