It uses a Software-as-a-Service Android app to provide management and finance to over 5000 smallholder farmers across three African countries.
“The GreenFingers solution is an important tool in enabling ethical supply chains, through the management of large, real-time data sets. We hope that GreenFingers can make it easier for large food companies to work with smallholder farmers, playing a significant role in poverty alleviation and reducing their impact on the environment,” writes the senior investment manager for The Hivos Food & Lifestyle Fund, Keith Wallace, in a press release to Ventureburn.
“With seven billion people on the planet, and smallholder agriculture representing 70% of production in developing countries, efficient systems to manage food supply chains are imperative,” says CEO of GFM, Max Pichulik.
“We believe that technology will play an increasing role in connecting farmers to markets efficiently, and meeting an increasing global demand for food.”
“Our software solution replaces archaic paper-based management systems with real-time mobile solutions, bringing transparency to the supply chain, and enabling the efficient management and financing of smallholder/emerging farmers.”
Pichulik says the investment will be used to further grow the company in other countries.
“Building development and support capability to expand the product, the product’s features, and reach out to the rest of the continent,” he says regarding plans for the investment.
Along with the funding announcement, the company’s software is now out of its beta stage as well.
“The software went from Alpha to Beta over those two years, which were two growing seasons. Its length was due to both technical and operational issues related to ensuring we had a solution which would work in the field,” writes Pichulik in an exchange with Ventureburn.
Over the past two years, Pichulik says the software has been tested in a range of areas, which also included overcoming a few hurdles. Some of these included “deploying smartphones and software into very rural locations where not only has no-one ever used such a device, and they (and their management) were running on paper-based systems”.
The solution also only runs between six to nine months depending on the country, region, and crop, which is called the ‘growing season’. “This lengthened the beta testing phase, as its difficult to deploy features during a growing season,” Pichulik explained.
Pichulik mention that troubleshooting was difficult as the team needed to narrow down software, network, device, or cloud hosting issues.