In early 2016, my co-founder John entered a ‘FinTech for Good’ hackathon with Singularity University. I was assisting virtually and we challenged ourselves to come up with the most ambitious, world-changing idea we could; a way to meaningfully help the 1 billion poorest farmers in the world.
Commercial ventures tend to focus on how to make a solution profitable, whereas we set out to make the solution beneficial for the farmer. Over the weekend of the hackathon, we realized that we'd stumbled onto an idea that could be world-changing and won! Both the Gates Foundation and UNICEF confirmed that it was a unique idea with huge potential.
AgUnity was then created and it became clear that we had approached a global issue in a completely new and original way. Virtually EVERY major NGO simply loved the idea and wanted to support and work with us!
The AgUnity App is a software that addresses a problem solved in developed nations before most of our grandparents were born - access to immutable payment records. As smallholder businesses are very small, everything costs more, the work is more difficult, and returns are less than on larger farms. The combination of these many inefficiencies add up. Fortunately, the AgUnity App ensures an instant collaborative process that is fair, equitable and transparent.
AgUnity's vision of Connecting The Last Mile has progressed with the creation of AgriUT in 2021. AgriUT Foundation is an independent, charitable entity that complements the AgUnity smartphone platform and enables the creation of a utility token that reaches the last mile. With AgriUT, smallholder farmers get access to a new eco-system and consumers have the opportunity to reward farmers with AgriUT Tokens and redistribute wealth directly into the last mile. See how it works in this video https://youtu.be/YA-ZjgviKcE and via the website www.agriut.org.
What led you to join Celo Camp and build on Celo?
So as not to erode the benefits being sent directly to the farmers, low transaction cost was an absolute necessity for the AgriUT ecosystem. Also, a shared prioritisation for mobile was imperative for AgUnity supported farmers using their AgUnity phones as a gateway into digital markets. Happily, the cLabs ethos of “prosperity for all” is perfectly aligned with the AgriUT mission to improve smallholder farmer’s livelihoods through direct connection to consumers worldwide. It is for these reasons we chose to work with Celo!
Once we knew that the Celo platform was the one for us, we were introduced to Celo Camp. It was the perfect way for AgriUT to accelerate its creation on the Celo platform! Our past experience with accelerators were of great benefit, so we applied and were fortunate enough to be selected and share in this opportunity with the Celo Camp team.
What was your Celo Camp experience like?
We collaborated with other parts of the Celo community for assistance in building a community currency for smallholder farming communities. The camp jump-started our journey exceeding our expectations and accelerated our progress; we look forward to developing our relationship with this community.
The eight week program delivers a structured approach to educational sessions on ideation, product market fit, user journey, technical build and more. It also provides individual guidance on essential skills for the startup founders such as “The Art of the Pitch,” and experienced mentor sessions to guide you and your project. The community has provided connections that enhance our product, strategy and our view of how the project fits into the wider context of users, builders, beneficiaries, and investors. Their vibrancy added a whole other dimension to our project!
What did you build during Celo Camp?
AgriUT is focused on directly connecting consumers to remote farmer communities worldwide to foster awareness, understanding and support for the small holders that grow the coffee we drink.
Built on the Celo platform, AgriUT is a utility token governed by smart contracts that can be stored on the Valora wallet and is used to transfer a reward from the consumer to the farmer that grew the coffee. The Agriwards website lists the farmers participating in the program and facilitates the conference of the reward. The AgriUT ecosystem incentivises all participants to create token powered communities that include the smallholder farmer.
How does your app change lives? Who do you hope to impact?
If you are a coffee drinker or chocolate eater, then you’ve probably enjoyed the produce of a smallholder farmer in a developing nation. They are the beginning of a number of important food supply chains, yet they live a precarious existence vulnerable to environmental, political and financial threats.
Challenges faced by Smallholder Farmers
Small holder farmers worldwide face a number of challenges. They lack income diversity and are often dependent on the income derived from a single crop. They experience poor economic geography including small market size and large distances between internal and export markets. Their agricultural environment is degrading with poor soil quality, pests and crop disease all reducing yields. Climate change brings extreme weather conditions of drought and flood, directly affecting crop viability. Farming communities experience a lack of suitable infrastructure like financial services, technology services, transport and processing facilities and are severely impacted by international commodity price volatility.
AgriUT Next Steps:
The next steps in the AgriUT journey are to complete the system build, including Celo components, and to promote our project for the various private token bundle releases beginning July 1, 2021. Our community is growing and we are excited to see the team at AgriUT grow as well!
AgUnity is a global technology platform empowering thousands of organizations working toward UN SDGs to connect the last mile. Tackling issues of poor connectivity, a lack of digital literacy, and a lack of trust, AgUnity has developed a smartphone and blockchain-based solution for the world’s 2-billion last mile farmers. It's a simple mobile product enabling cooperation and connecting smallholder farmers with the services they need.
For more information, visit: www.agunity.com.
AgriUT is a digital utility token that powers sustainable development of smallholder farmers worldwide. AgriUT’s vision is a transparent and fair global ecosystem where all farmers benefit from digital inclusion and the tools they need to build prosperous and sustainable communities. For more information, visit: www.agriut.org.
Author: David Davies, CEO, AgUnity