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Farmers have long had a raw deal when selling their goods on the market. They’re often hapless price takers, while middle-men such as farm agents and fresh produce markets all eat into their meagre takings.
But Lance Gibbons (pictured above), the brains behind a new app called ChefDirect, reckons he has the solution. He’s looking to cut farmers’ costs by up to 25%, all while hoping that the giving restaurants easier access to buying local produce.
Earlier this month ChefDirect launched a R5-million equity crowdfunding campaign on Uprise.Africa, in return for giving away a 15.15% stake in the company.
With 59 days left of the campaign, the company has raised R49 000 from 11 investors.
Earlier this month ChefDirect launched a R5-million equity crowdfunding campaign on Uprise.Africa
Gibbons is the founder of Film and Event Media, a business-to-business publisher he started in 2002.
He told Ventureburn earlier this week that so far 6000 chefs and general managers of hotels and bulk food suppliers are listed as buyers on the app.
He’s tapped most of these from the 12 000-strong subscription base of SA Chef, one of the three magazine titles that the publisher currently produces.
While a number of farming agents are listed on the app, Gibbons said the aim is to sign on 100 000 farmers within two years. The number, he said, would include both smallholder and commercial farmers.
So far, one agent, RSA Group, has been using the app as a tool to communicate to buyers.
Gibbons said a number of investors have also expressed an interest in investing in the business.
Development for the app began two years ago. The app was developed by Film and Event Media in partnership with Irish registered software developer ChatFind.
‘R13m spent on development’
So far the software developer, which has operations in South Africa, has spent about R10-million on developing the app, while Gibbons has spent about R3-million on development.
Gibbons said both parties will share in any future revenue that the platform makes, which will be drawn from charging a fee to who place produce on the app for purchase.
The sofware developer white-labelled the platform for ChefDirect, and sold a similar platform to Walmart and other clients — thus justifying the higher costs the developer has spent on the platform versus what Gibbons’ company injected.
“We’re hoping that people will realise that you’re investing in your future,” says Gibbons, who hopes that because of geolocation on smartphones, that the app will help food buyers to source locally-produced foodstuff.
This will, he hopes, will satisfy the growing trend of many consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint by buying and consuming locally-produced goods.
But this doesn’t mean that farming agents will automatically loose out, says Gibbons. They could use the app to better communicate prices and information to their farmer clients, he points out.
Why get those oranges that came over on a plane from Israel, when a local variety will do, even if priced a little higher.
It’s this thinking and trying to lower the cost for farmers that Gibbons hopes will make his app a winning bet.
Featured image: ChefDirect founder Lance Gibbons via Facebook