On an otherwise reasonable evening, more than 1,000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, for the culmination of the 2012 Unreasonable Institute. They came to see 23 ventures present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
Narcisse Mbunzama, Founder of Mobile Agribusiness (Mogribu.com), shares how his venture is addressing the greatest needs of Congolese people living on less than $1 per day – farmers. Mobile Agribusiness is a web- and SMS-based mobile app that enables farmers to rapidly find buyers, and obtain information and skills on best farming practices.
What is the urgent social or environmental need you’re addressing?
The civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo have had a horrific impact on the country, killing 5.4 million of its citizens and leaving a legacy of poverty, hunger and disease. In 2005, the International Crisis Group estimated that over 1,000 people were dying every day from war- related causes, including disease, hunger and violence. Today, 80% of the population lives in extreme poverty, living on less than 50 pence a day, and more than 70% are undernourished.
Agriculture is a vital tool for achieving the MDG that calls for halving the share of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. About 80% of people in Congo live in rural areas, and of those, 87% are living in poverty and are dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. The poorest people living in rural areas are small-scale farmers and farm laborers who lack access to market information. This results in their exploitation by middlemen who give them unfair prices for their goods and crops. Farmers also have limited skills to conduct sustainable agriculture, resulting in reduced productivity and negative impacts on the environment.
What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy.
Mobile Agribusiness is a mobile- and web-based app that connects farmers to buyers, and helps them to obtain necessary information (e.g. weather, crop pricing) and skills (e.g. how to plant crops, how to use fertilizers). As a result, farmers in the Congo improve their productivities, are empowed with new skills, increase their incomes by 40%, and enjoy enhanced food security and nutrition.
Farmers realize immediate and significant benefits from our service. Mobile Agribusiness reduces the time it takes farmers to find buyers from an average of ten days to one. This results in higher prices for their goods, as the price is dependent on quality and freshness.