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The farmers connect to Selina Wamucii via USSD. Their information is collected, including produce type, location, availability dates and projected volumes during the growth period and then entered into the company’s mapping system.

Currently, the company works with over 3,000 farmers spread across Kenya whose produce is sold in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. John Oroko, co-founder and COO of Selina Wamucii, spoke to How we made in Africa.

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What inspired the business?

Our passion for empowering smallholder farmers drove us to this business. My co-founder, Gaita Kariuki, and I were raised in smallholder families where we grew to love working in our parents’ small family farms. We experienced first-hand the immense opportunities that family farming presented and the challenges that have consistently hindered the true realisation of the opportunities that can lift smallholder families out of poverty.

While still in the engineering school at the university, we found ourselves enjoying working on a project for smallholder farmers where our passion for smallholder farmers grew even more. The project was run by a popular enterprise club for students then known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). In 2015, we came together and resolved to start Selina Wamucii – the company that is now empowering smallholder farmers.

How did you get started?

We started the company together with my co-founder by pooling together capital from our savings. Since then, our operations have been funded entirely by internally-generated cash from sales.

We started by opening an account at trademap.org, a market analysis and research tool by International Trade Centre (ITC). Shout out to ITC, because back then they had an offer for people from developing countries to open the account for free. We crunched and analysed all the fresh produce trade data we could possibly lay our hands on relating to fresh produce currently grown by smallholder farmers in Kenya. From the analysis, we discovered that avocados had an insatiable demand (and a growing one) across Europe, Middle East and Asia. That is how we settled on our first produce to market and sell – avocados.

Source: How we made it in Africa