Zamokhule Thwala is the founder and CEO of AgriCool, an agribusinss digital crowdfunding platform that empowers small-scale farmers by connecting them with investors and and creating market linkage opportunities.
The digital crowdfunding platform enables individuals to invest in agribusinesses owned by small holder farmers. The farmers are also offered affordable, efficient and reliable options, and are linked to a network of informal vendors and supermarkets to sell their fresh produce.
Market access challenges
Zamokuhle learned from personal experience just how hard it is for a small-scale farmer.
Having struggled with access to market and finance, he tried to source finance from various institutions like banks and other funding, but was not fortunate enough to succeed. That’s how Agricool came about. He decided to quit farming so he could try to solve this problem.
“I would farm and lose most of my produce to spoilage due to lack of access to markets. I decided to quit farming so I could solve these key problems in the agri-value chain. With AgriCool, we work with both formal and informal markets. Street vendors can get their fresh produce delivered to them, saving them time and transportation costs, while we link formal smallholder farmers with market access opportunities,” Thwala said in an interview with Sowetan.
Promoting financial inclusion
Zamokuhle is passionate about using fintech to promote financial inclusion to improve people’s lives and in agri-tech to improve food security.
He wanted to make farming cool to a new generation of farmers and that he also thinks women make better farmers.
Zamokhule was recently awarded R1.3 million at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards. Using this funding he has been able to expand his business and employ more people. He plans to invest in logistics and technology to unblock bottle necks that have created challenges for his business. This funding will also enable Agricool to assist more people in rural agricultural to gain access to market.
Zamokhule advises entrepreneurs to concentrate on learning more about their potential customers, so as to offer value and articulate their value proposition. His vision is for AgriCool to become one of the largest agri-tech companies in South Africa.