The Safaricom Spark Venture Fund has today announced that it will be investing in a startup called FarmDrive. FarmDrive is a data analytics startup that is able to connect small scale farmers to financial services. It employs alternative credit-scoring model based on mobile phones and machine learning algorithms to allow farmers to access financing using their phones.
FarmDrive was born out of the need to provide credit to small scale farmers who have not had access to financial services. It does this by enabling the farmers to collect data needed by lenders in order to provide loans. This is done by leveraging on Android and sms in a mobile app that allows farmers to track their revenues and expenses as well as apply for loans. The data is then fed into a credit scoring algorithm alongside key satellite agronomic and economic data to help improve yields. It is after analyzing these data sets that the algorithm is able to generate credit scores for farmers. Other than credit scores FarmDrive also develops decision making tools that financial institutions can use to create products that fit the economic and agronomic needs of smallholder farmers.
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FarmDrive was founded by Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire both Computer Science graduates from University of Nairobi back in 2014. According to the founders it was inspired by their experiences growing up in smallholder farming communities. Along the way the startup has won numerous global awards. So far It has 3,000 farmers under its belt with over Kshs.13 million accessed in loans. FarmDrive becomes the fifth investment by the Safaricom Spark Fund since it was established in 2015.