T N L K E N Y A

Early February 2020 right before Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, a friend of mine jetted back to Kenya with unlikely business idea and I was not going to let it slide. Well, I am a business man and it is in my nature of turning charcoal into diamond; a meeting was set up.

While sipping Kenyan tea at our favorite joint within the bumble of the City under the sun, the gentleman shares with me the need for Avocado as expressed by the networks he met during a youthful conference in Japan.

I quickly mention to him that I know someone who know others who can get us 40-feet containers. We even found the actual strain of avocado needed after a long search but the issues was, how can we MOVE them!

Our first task was acquisition, to find a way to transport them before perishing and lastly to clear with the relevant authorities before export. I can assure you, we did capitulate at first try. The chain was long and the bureaucracy was on another level. We only knew was is written on paper, Kenya operates differently.

On March 13th Covid-19 pandemic hit the country and the country went into lockdown. We were faced with a far much wider problem during the period. How do we get fresh farm produce to the people who actually need it? As much as the food industry was classified as an essential service, the logistics of the produces were controlled by a few. This meant that the prices were determined by them.

This control led to tones of produces rotting before they were even harvested.

Why Kenya need this?

In a country where about 75% of Kenyans earn all or part of their income from agricultural sector which accounts for 33% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) as stipulated by USAID, you would be certain that we strive to have zero hunger issues and overpriced produces.

The internet penetration in the country is at 87.2% and phone at close to 98% some parts of this vast sector can be digitized.

The problem we face worldwide of hunger is not a food problem or scarcity but of logistics.

Esther Ndichu’s Ted Talk on food logistics.

Can we have a centralized system, either private or public, that is able to catalog farmers with their produces, time for harvest, regions of high consumption and access to available markets and easy cuts on the levy for farm produce transportation?

One system that will enable e-clearance, give access to food handling certificate that is applicable country-wide and not just on a county level, have a directory of approved fertilizers for specific crops and price, have port clearance request, inspection request et al. A 72-hour service portal.

This means, applications developed by companies such as TransNorth Premium Logistics that have crowd-sourcing of farm produce with integrated door-to-door delivery chain can work towards getting these fresh meals to everyone’s doorstep with a single clearance on their government portal.

The impact

This would be a bold move that can actually shield counties such as Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi among others that do not have food/farm production of their own have a constant and seamless supply of fresh harvests year round.

Utilizing the over 1.2 million Boda Boda riders across the country as delivery boy partnered courier service can additionally create income to the vast growing industry and reduce the amount of food that goes to waste through efficiency by improving access.

We did develop a system platdel.com during the period of lockdown with an aim to create alternative access to home-made meals under a dollar (at that time) and linked it directly to consumers with the same approach I have mentioned above.

We threw it into the market to see its functionality and demand. The results were tremendous. As unstable as it was, we had over 5,000 traffic to the system with over 1,500 registrations. We have since served over 3,000 clients with monthly recurrent orders which proved our hypothesis on the subscription system (a topic for another day).

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