Model & Strategy
Flexible farmer financing is central to smallholder farmers’ ability to optimize their productivity, increase incomes, and adapt to and mitigate climate change. Yet, most smallholder farmers are still unable to access the flexible and tailored financing required to grow their farm. This lack of access to finance is particularly alarming because agriculture accounts for up to 30% of GDP and 80% of employment on the continent. Despite possessing most of the world’s unused land and the potential for 10x growth in yield, African farmers cannot invest in their farms. Existing banking structures have failed these farmers, with traditional banks unable to lend and informal lenders charging prohibitive interest rates. This financial barrier prevents farmers from accessing essential investments such as quality inputs, better breeds, and irrigation systems, ultimately hindering their productivity. Emata is tackling the critical issue of financial exclusion among smallholder farmers in Africa, where the funding gap reaches a staggering $240B.
Emata is on a mission to empower 100M African smallholder farmers to bridge this funding gap and unlock the continent’s vast agricultural potential. To do so, Emata is revolutionizing financing for smallholder farmers in Africa by providing fully digital loans utilizing a three-pronged approach:
- Digitize Agri Companies: Emata provides free software to agricultural companies (cooperatives, exporters, processors, etc.) to digitize their operations, allowing them access to their data and farmers. In doing so, Emata can efficiently reach farmers at scale.
- Data-Driven Credit Scoring: Using collected data and AI-powered algorithms, Emata creates alternative credit scores, tailoring credit limits to each farmer and bypassing traditional banking barriers.
- Instant Digital Loans: Loans are provided via WhatsApp and approved instantly, with repayments deducted directly from harvest payments made by the agricultural companies. This innovative approach enables farmers to invest in their farms, with customers experiencing a 30-100% increase in productivity. Focusing on a fully digital process reduces operational expenses, and partnerships assist in onboarding digitally illiterate farmers.
Emata’s path to scale focuses on expanding its core value chains of milk and coffee while exploring and adding more value chains. Their expansion strategy includes entering other East African countries, beginning with Tanzania, and broadening the range of products and services offered to farmers and partners, magnifying their impact on the agricultural sector.
Bram, co-founder and CEO, has seven years of banking experience with ING and UBS, including four years in agricultural financing in emerging markets. He started Emata to solve the unfairness farmers experience when accessing financing.
Lillian, co-founder and CPO, has a B.Sc. in software development from Makerere University in Uganda. She spent six years working as a software developer for European and African banks before shifting to product management to revolutionize farmer financing.
Emata has disbursed over $1,000,000 in loans to 2,700 farmers across Uganda, with an average loan size of $340.
Emata works with over 50 partners across dairy, coffee, corn, and oilseeds that reach approximately 40,000 farmers.