Winich Farms, a leading food solutions provider and inventory supplier, has closed a seed funding round for $790,000 from Founders Factory Africa and other angel investor groups. This funding goes towards its goal of building sustainable solutions for the agricultural distribution industry.
Winich Farms is an agritech platform revolutionising the farm-to-retailer industry by using tech to cut out middlemen and improve the farm produce distribution and supply chain. Winich Farms connects food producers (farmers) directly to off-takers (small retailers and factories) to aid the buying and selling process between them and has transactions and settlements between buyer and seller resolved within 24 hours. By cutting down on excessive middlemen, profit is restored to the farmers and mid to small-scale retailers and factories can also run more efficiently with easily accessible products.
Building food solutions
West Africa is experiencing its worst food crisis in years. With 27 million people already going hungry, the number of starving people is expected to rise to 38 million this June. Food prices have increased by 20–30 per cent in the past 5 years owing to drought, conflict, COVID-19, and now the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
In Nigeria, this food inflation has been aided by governmental policies that put a strain on the distribution system and hamper food accessibility. In 2019, Nigeria closed its borders to curb food smuggling and other border security issues. This was supposed to improve internal trading and the economy, but at that time, the country lacked an efficient distribution system. This border closure led to a 62% increase in import spending that year.
In Nigeria, getting produce from farm to retailer often involves a lot of middlemen. These middlemen cost food producers money on the one hand and on the other, food processors and distributors who have no direct link to the producers, often have to deal with insufficient product inventory and an inefficient and unreliable supply system. This existing inefficient supply system increases the overall cost of food while making food inaccessible.
Winich Farms is one of such agritech solutions providers. With over 29,000 active food producers connected to the platform and a supply chain equipped to move 127 tonnes of produce from farms to businesses every 24 hours, Winich farms is dedicated to solving the supply chain issue and is at the forefront of providing food security in Africa. Winich Farms is providing sustainable agricultural solutions by reducing food waste and improving food quality and distribution efficiency at affordable costs.
Founded in 2019, Winich Farms is on a mission to build the largest and most efficient supply chain platform in Africa. According to co-founder and CEO, Riches Attai, “We intend to leverage our strengths and resources to innovate for new product categories and customer segments while solving complex supply chain problems with simple solutions.”
One way they’re creating simple solutions is with the mobile app launched this June.
Winich Mobile app
This mobile app, available here, is aimed at improving efficiency and ease for off-takers and producers in the food production and distribution industry. With this app, off-takers and producers not only have direct contact, they also have trackable, live contact.
The first challenge with running Winich Farms was traceability. Initially, Winich farms tackled traceability via WhatsApp live location. Drivers using the platform to perform deliveries shared their WhatsApp live location with off-takers throughout the delivery process. Now with the launch of the mobile app, this tracking feature will be directly incorporated onto the platform.
This off-taker and driver app is designed to help informal retailers and processors organise their inventory more efficiently. This easy-to-use app is readily available with a simple registration and account creation process. On this app users can:
- Get access to available produce and have their choice of pick with an easy click.
- See real-time driver location. They can track and trace produce delivery at every point in time, both inter and intra-city. This helps them monitor and have control over inventory planning.
- Plan and schedule their inventory for up to a year. They can decide what they want delivered and whether they want it delivered, weekly, monthly, or quarterly and this will aid their efficiency in the business overall.
- They get a choice to pay ahead or pay at the point of delivery. With this, Winich Farms is building a trust system where off-takers can ensure quality and efficiency before pay.
- With a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) service in the works, they can build a credit rating or score to enable them access the service when it becomes available.
Introducing tech-based solutions to a not-so-tech-savvy population of local farmers can be a huddle and with that in mind Winich Farms has created a hybrid system of offline and online modes of operation.
Local farmers who have products ready to be sold can request pickup directly via a USSD code. This USSD method is combined with SMS to convey information to farmers on prices, demands, etc.
Winich Farms also has agents at collection centres who use Winich Farm’s technology on behalf of the farmers. These farmers bring their produce to the collection centres where agents take stock of these produce and connect them to off-takers who need the produce and the drivers who deliver them.
Winich Farms provides value to both farmers, retailers, and food processors. The platform provides ease to food processors who cut down on time and use fewer resources sourcing for products individually.
The road ahead
Winich Farms has experienced tremendous growth since its inception and continues to innovate and create solutions that cater to off-takers and producers alike. Besides solving the distribution problem and leading the charge for food security in Africa they have partnered with lending institutions and insurance to empower local farmers with financial solutions that enable business growth.
Winich Farms not only connects producers to off-takers but is also invested in economic empowerment and market access for food producers. With its system, Winich Farms is providing market access to low-income farmers and creating jobs for hundreds of truck drivers. Winich Farms also profiles users based on their transactions and connects them to financial aid services like credit and insurance.
According to Attai, with the launch of the mobile app and the other products in the works they “are focused on making the Winich innovation more accessible to the most fragmented parts of society”.
As at Jan 2022, Winich Farms has recorded $17.1 million in transaction volume across 461 agents/collection centres, servicing 500+ retail groups and informal processors across 8 cities.
With this recent seed funding, they’ve raised $829,800 in total funding so far.
Including the BNPL credit system they have in the works, Winich Farms also plans to provide access to inventory insurance for its users.
To see how Winich Farms works, go here.