A big issue in Tanzania, and indeed the rest of East Africa, is connecting agriculture buyers and sellers.

The fact that produce goes bad because it can’t find a buyer is a real problem
in terms of the incomes that farmers can receive.

Ninayo is a marketplace where farmers can list their produce, giving buyers a place to search for goods.

Maria and I discuss how the marketplace is being built, the plans for making revenue and how they are using Facebook to their advantage.

We were in a cafe and so at some point you can hear people in the background. We’ve done our best to edit this out, but apologies if you find it distracting.

Here are some of the key quotes:

“We’re an online trading platform for agriculture”

It’s about connecting food supply and demand for the people of Tanzania. There are avocados going rotten in some parts of the country and people paying high prices in another. We are the bridge between them.

“Farmers are already seeing better prices”

People are using the platform and having the connection between buyer and seller has meant many are getting value from transactions that were previously costly.

“You access via your smartphone”

Farmers log on to the website, or through Facebook, and then follow the steps through to listing the produce that they have.

“We’re pre-revenue”

At the moment we just put people in touch with each other for free. In time we will look at ways to extract value from the arrangement.

“There’s a big discrepancy…”

In what is being produced, and what is reaching the market. A lot of produce is going off as it can’t find a buyer.

“Currently it’s middle men”

The main route between buyer and seller is to go direct, or to a middle man who has power over what price they will buy at which often means farmers lose out.

“There are different means of monetising”

One could be to take a percentage of the sale. Another could be to sell the data that we’re collecting. Also advertising agricultural products.

“The service is developed in San Francisco”

I am currently heading up the operations in Tanzania, with Jack the founder relocating out here in the new year. The tech team are based in San Francisco.

“A partnership with Facebook means it’s free to go on our website”

The internet.org project means that access to Facebook is free from a smart phone, even if you do not have a data plan. Ninayo has just been accepted as one of the “Free Basics” meaning there is no cost to visiting the site.

“Tanzania has good infrastructure…”

… but not the services. The government is looking to help push services which can help the country develop, such as Ninayo.

“Our funding comes from Expa Labs”

Their remit is to help startups that are improving livelihoods through access to technology.

“Trust is key”

Similar to anything that involves a behaviour change, people need to be able to trust what they’re doing. We need to make sure that farmers and buyers feel that they can rely on the Ninayo platform.

“Ninayo means ‘I have it'”

In a marketplace “Does anyone have mangoes?” “Ninayo!”. I have it, come get it.

Social Media Follows etc.

Internet.org: (Facebook’s Free Basics)

ExperLabs: programme details

Website: www.ninayo.com

Facebook: Ninayo