Shadrack - DOT Tanzania

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Shadrack

Creating digital wallets for small-scale farmers

More than 75% of Tanzania’s population makes its livelihood from small-scale farming — it was only a matter of time until there was a mobile money application designed specifically for them.

That mobile platform is called Jamvi, and it was created by Shadrack Danford Kamenya, a computer engineering student at Saint Joseph University in Dar es Salaam. Jamvi will allow farmers with basic mobile phones to sign up for a free digital savings wallet so they can better budget and plan their spending.

Jamvi will allow farmers with basic mobile phones to sign up for a free digital savings wallet so they can better budget and plan their spending.

Jamvi is the Swahili word for the woven mats that farmers sit on while selling produce at the market.

How a digital wallet will help farmers

There is huge potential for the combination of agriculture, technology, and mobile money services. “We all know that technology has been very helpful for bridging gaps in social situations,” Shadrack says. “In this era of innovation, we need technology introduced in every part of our lives, especially farming activities.”

Mobile money services have already revolutionized the banking system in East Africa. M-Pesa, the most popular provider, has more than 25 million users worldwide, with most in Kenya and Tanzania. People who cannot access formal banking services — which includes many small-scale farmers — can easily use mobile money to deposit, withdraw, and transfer funds, as well as pay for different goods.

Jamvi will be linked to a Tanzanian mobile money service, likely M-Pesa. When farmers enrol on the platform, they are asked to create a timeline for their farming activities. This includes details such as when they plan to plant and harvest their crops. Once mobile money is added, Jamvi saves it until the time of the year indicated on the farmer’s timeline.

The purpose of Jamvi is to help farmers minimize losses through advanced financial planning. Without any specific mobile money service, farmers lack a dedicated and relevant way to budget and save. Jamvi ensures farmers have enough money to get through the next growing season by guiding when they spend their savings.

The purpose of Jamvi is to help farmers minimize losses through advanced financial planning. Without any specific mobile money service, farmers lack a dedicated and relevant way to budget and save.

As a part of Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)’s program for social entrepreneurs, Shadrack learned how to use human-centred design principles to ensure his idea was relevant, localized, and accessible to the people who need it most.

Shadrack grew up in a farming community in southwestern Tanzania and has seen production losses firsthand: families relying on a previous year’s crop for seeds or losing their entire farm due to the inability to afford pesticide. Having done market research in farming villages across the country, he knows there is a demand for this service.

Financial services for rural farmers

Shadrack says the digital wallet will be especially useful for farmers in extremely rural parts of Tanzania.

“There are people who live in very distant areas and cannot reach institutions or cooperatives,” Shadrack says. Jamvi does not require a data connection, making the platform much more accessible and affordable for farmers.

Through Jamvi, farmers will also be able to apply for microloans to support their agricultural activities. This money will go directly to a farmer’s wallet so it can be reinvested in their crops. Shadrack plans to study the best ways to ensure farmers pay back the microloans and has already met with smaller banks to get their support.

At DOT we’re excited to bring you inspiring stories that highlight the impact of daring young social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship and social innovation is an ongoing journey, so we invite you to follow along with Shadrack by following him on Twitter at @DanfordShadrack.

This #DOTYouth Spotlight was developed as a part of DOT’s 2017 Unconference in Kenya, supported by the Mastercard Foundation and the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

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