FarmDrive: Connecting farmers to financing

In Kenya, most small farmers — around 7.5 million — lack access to small loans to help them buy what they need to improve their production and make the most of their land – things like quality fertilizers, better seeds, livestock and micro-irrigation.  

While financial inclusion in the country has increased, many farmers remain excluded. Limited financing for farmers is due, in part, to a lack of available credible risk-assessment information for financial institutions. Many small farmers are unbanked and off the financial grid, without credit profiles to verify or back up details on their annual income, business expenses or yields. Without this information, farmers are left with little to no access to financial services, while lenders miss out on the opportunity to build their client base and agricultural loan portfolios.

Developing credit profiles, enabling loans for small farmers

The FarmDrive solution expands access to credit for underserved small farmers by providing partner financial institutions with analytics and risk profiles.

Developing credit profiles, enabling loans for small farmers

FarmDrive generates real-time credit reports for small farmers, allowing them to access loans from financial institutions and agricultural input providers via mobile phone. 

Using a proprietary platform, FarmDrive collects expense and revenue data from farmers via SMS and combines it with satellite imaging, remote sensing technology and alternative data points (e.g., soil analysis, weather forecasts) to create detailed yield estimates and assess credit risk.

Reports allow credit providers to make informed lending decisions and easily reach rural clients, expanding access to financing for small farmers. As a result, farmers have greater control over their livelihoods – equipped with what they need to increase their crop yields, improve their incomes and invest their additional revenue back into their families and communities.

A venture with small farm roots, FarmDrive co-founders Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire both grew up on farms and witnessed firsthand the frustration their families and communities experienced. “We would get as low as four bags of maize out of an acre of land that had the potential of over 40 bags,” says Kimani. The two met in the computer science program at the University of Nairobi and found out that they were both “computer geeks and farm girls with the same ambition to change the lives of smallholder farmers.” In their final year of university, they resolved to use their personal and academic experiences to bridge the gap between small farmers and financial institutions, and founded FarmDrive right after graduation. Since, FarmDrive has reached hundreds of farmers with its suite of financial services, credit reports and financing options, with a particular focus on serving women and youth farmers typically neglected by the formal financial system.

Customer story

Pius Mitei is a young farmer from Kampi ya Moto, an agricultural community in the Rift Valley of Kenya. In 2015, Mitei purchased 200 chickens to launch a poultry farming business but was unsuccessful because he didn’t have enough capital to purchase quality feed and supplies. When FarmDrive hosted its first training in Kampi ya Moto, Mitei came to learn about how it could help him access capital. Excited to get his poultry farming business off the ground again, Mitei applied for his first loan that month and used the funds to purchase 50 more chickens, along with quality feeds and supplies. After only six weeks, Mitei sold all 250 chickens for a profit of 35,000 KES (approximately $350 USD). Since then he has received more loans and purchased and sold over 900 more chickens. Mitei is using his increased income to expand his agribusiness to strawberries and coriander, and has become the chair of his youth farmer group.

FarmDrive’s software, data and mobile-based platform are extremely scalable with Kenya’s extensive mobile penetration and mobile money usage, and we’re helping the team develop its network of partners as it expands into new markets.

Building connections for greater impact

FarmDrive overlaps our focus areas of agriculture and financial inclusion, empowering the world’s most vulnerable farmers with the digital financial services they need to strengthen and improve their livelihoods. 

We’ve connected FarmDrive to various partners and expertise to help them scale, as its usage increases in other developing markets in sub-Saharan Africa. 

We’re committed to connecting small farmers to the tools, knowledge and financing they need to ensure their growth and resilience — more important than ever against today’s backdrop of a rapidly changing and unpredictable climate — and our partnership with FarmDrive will accelerate our impact.

“[FarmDrive] has a very innovative approach to bringing smallholder farmers ‘on grid’ and qualifying them for financial services that can help them become more productive and increase their incomes.” — Leesa Shrader AgriFin Accelerate Program Director