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Farm Fresh new, an e-commerce platform in The Gambia, delivers refreshing fruits, greens, and other FMCG goods. Established in 2013 by Modou NSZ N’jie, at a time when web penetration in the state was underneath 15%, the firm has seasoned slow and steady development. Jeanette Clark speaks to N’jie about concentrating on a exceptional market place in the diaspora, overcoming distribution challenges, and adapting payment methods.
Modou NSZ N’jie has two passions: IT and agriculture. Immediately after a vocation of around a decade focused to the very first, which culminated in landing the task of head of technology at Warranty Bank in his property place The Gambia, N’jie noticed a hole in the source chain of agricultural deliver in 2013. He considered that farmers would gain from a technique that eradicated middlemen.
“They are usually taken edge of and had costs dictated to them. It was an unfair exercise,” says N’jie. These producers also confronted post-harvest losses if they couldn’t uncover customers speedily, due to a deficiency of appropriate storage facilities.
This was the perfect option to marry his desire in agriculture with his IT skills.
N’jie developed an e-commerce system called Farm Fresh new, which sells instantly to the public, providing a ready market place for farmers. These farmers benefit from the security of a confirmed purchaser and get better rates than they would get from sector middlemen. On the other hand, Farm Refreshing is able to safe fresh create at discounted charges straight from the resource.
One particular-man display
For the very first 4 a long time, N’jie was the only personnel of Farm Clean. “I would take the orders, do the accounting, handle the promoting, and be certain delivery. It was extremely hard, but I persevered and grew the business enterprise to the level the place I could hire additional persons,” he claims.
Early on, troubles included area customer attitudes toward on-line purchasing and The Gambia’s restricted world wide web access. People today in the nation had been accustomed to fingers-on interactions with goods at marketplaces, major to scepticism about paying for things online and awaiting shipping.
“Initially, we had incredibly number of customers, possibly all-around 10 regulars,” states N’jie. “Not a ton of people today had entry to the internet, and then these who did were not acquainted with on line purchasing. As we had been the first e-commerce system in the place for agricultural make, I had to do a large amount of instruction on how to use it.”
According to studies from the World Financial institution, only 14% of Gambians ended up using the world-wide-web in 2013 when Farm Fresh was established. That number has because climbed to about 30%, and so have the company’s prospects.
A breakthrough came when N’jie opened a physical Farm Contemporary shop in Bakau, a metropolis just west of the capital of Banjul, where the company’s headquarters are situated. “When we opened the retail store, we grew to become a click on-and-mortar procedure,” states N’jie. The physical existence instantly helped establish rely on with prospects, ultimately translating into a lot more online purchases by means of the e-commerce platform.
Though online accessibility has improved in the place, N’jie notes that the expense of that obtain is however a hurdle to advancement for Farm Clean. “To get over this, we choose orders in many means in addition to the e-commerce system: walk-ins at our shop, by way of phone or social media,” he claims.
A enhance from funding and products diversification
In the early years, Farm Fresh’s startup capital came from the pocket of its only worker, N’jie himself. Then, in 2015, the company was picked as aspect of the 1st cohort of startups supported by the Tony Elumelu Basis.
The US$5,000 Farm New been given assisted set up the physical retailer, make improvements to the e-commerce platform, and diversify the product lineup.
In the very first calendar year or so, the platform only provided clean fruit and veggies. Even so, it became very clear that there was demand from customers for other area make these as cereals, dried fruits, moringa and baobab goods as nicely as honey. As these have been added to the checklist of goods, person figures rose.
“Today, we’ve grown to close to 150 typical prospects, and potentially 250 non-regulars building purchases for every thirty day period on our web page,” suggests N’jie. In a profitable month, the company generates about $5,000 in earnings.
Focusing on the diaspora
N’jie and his staff realised there was a precise buyer they necessary to target: The Gambia’s diaspora, who are functioning overseas but want to acquire care of spouse and children users remaining in the region.
“The lifestyle of Gambians contains the remittance of dollars back again property. We saw this as minimal-hanging fruit we could advertise the use of our platform to these customers,” suggests N’jie.
The firm utilized electronic internet marketing platforms these as Fb to get the term out and numerous Gambians outdoors the country’s borders have embraced the notion. “The vast bulk of the income we generate is coming from the diaspora – at minimum 70%, I would say,” states N’jie.
Social media, which include Fb, Twitter, and Instagram, remains the company’s most important advertising system, with a blended subsequent of above 70,000 across these channels.
To begin with, the enterprise offered funds-on-shipping and delivery as its only payment possibility. When its diaspora income started buying up, it added PayPal but re-evaluated that final decision when it realised that the charges from the payment gateway were being feeding on away at its financial gain.
It now gives a mobile cash payment resolution in partnership with Ecobank and a local payment gateway by means of Gambian enterprise TaybullPay. EFT payments and funds-on-shipping are however acknowledged.
“There is a threshold for income-on-supply payments. For larger sized orders we wait until eventually the payment displays in our bank account right after an EFT,” suggests N’jie.
Navigating shipping difficulties and enlargement
When N’jie was the only employee, he made the deliveries of all orders himself. As the enterprise and the orders grew, he had to contemplate a more sustainable solution.
One particular alternative was to use regional taxis to make the deliveries for him, but that was as well highly-priced, so N’jie, and his tiny team later on on, ongoing dealing with this in-home.
Then, around 2018, 3rd-party shipping and delivery businesses commenced popping up in The Gambia, delivering Farm Fresh new with a new method.
“In the past three yrs, however, we have realised that these firms are becoming overwhelmed with desire. We were encountering far more and extra delays and have now obtained a shipping and delivery motorbike and are back to doing our own deliveries once again,” he claims. “When there is a big order, we nevertheless outsource to supply businesses.”
The business applies a delivery fee ranging from $1.50 (for Fajara, a suburb neighboring Bakau) to $11 (for Brikama, situated south of both Bakau and Banjul).
Farm Fresh’s shipping and delivery space has grown from a radius of 20km to up to 60km nowadays. N’jie is hoping to develop this radius to 100km inside the year. In parallel, the corporation is searching at cold-chain options that would come to be far more pertinent if it had to do deliveries of clean create to a bigger geographical spot.
Covid a blended bag
In 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Farm Fresh was justifiably anxious as it had to also shut its bodily keep.
Nonetheless, throughout the initial 6 months, on line orders surged considerably owing to restricted motion and the expanding have to have for home deliveries. Larger product sales from worried Gambians overseas, who despatched deliveries to their family and mates, more contributed to increased income.
However, soon after about six months, the enterprise begun looking at all those additional orders dwindle. “People ended up dropping their work opportunities, domestically and internationally, and experienced to cut again on expenditure. We saw that effects on our base line,” he suggests. Put up the pandemic, income have normalised.
Well known solutions
Farm Fresh stands as just one of the few e-commerce platforms in the country largely concentrated on agricultural solutions, in accordance to N’jie. On the other hand, new competition have emerged.
Currently, it delivers around 100 items – contemporary fruits and veggies, bread, nuts, tinned meat, processed juices, oil, treats like potato crisps, and even airtime and prepaid electrical power top rated-ups.
“One of the most preferred merchandise remains the clean strawberries when they are in year,” says N’jie. “We are unable to preserve up with demand.”
Future development designs
Farm Refreshing has registered a subsidiary on the other aspect of the continent, in Rwanda. It is however to start out functions in the nation but has preliminary agreements with suppliers in area and hopes to begin business in the up coming 6 months to a yr.
“One of the reasons why we have made the decision to broaden is because there is a very conducive organization local climate in Rwanda. Opening a company does not value you just about anything, you can do it on the web,” claims N’jie.
It also has its eyes established on neighbouring international locations like Senegal, even although it is a more state-of-the-art market that now has numerous e-commerce gamers.
In The Gambia, the organization is taking into consideration vertical integration to venture into real agricultural manufacturing as it thinks some area of interest products, like strawberries, could give advancement opportunities.
Farm Contemporary founder Modou NSZ N’jie’s call facts
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