This project was implemented while I was working at iDT Labs. For further information about this project please email info@idtlabs.xyz

The Context

In Sierra Leone, 70% of the labour force is engaged in subsistence farming. However,the persistence of low productivity leads to the farmers dealing with uncertain cash flows in their every day lives. This in turn affects their ability to save for buying input materials at the growing season, thereby affecting their economic standing and food security.

The Solution

miKashBoks(previously called iCommit) is a mobile money based conditional cash savings scheme that allows farmers to buy agricultural inputs at harvest time for the next growing season.

With miKashBoks, transactions are conducted via a USSD menu linked to an individual’s mobile money account. The farmer would pay with mobile money at harvest time and collect the input at the next growing season by sending his iCommit voucher to the input seller.

Since farmers have the greatest amount of cash flow at the harvesting season, miKashBoks would allow them to “commit” to buying the inputs at the harvest time in advance. Until the next growing season, they would be saving money in their mobile money accounts.

Research Evidence for iCommit

miKashBoks is based on an academic article published by Esther Dufflo, M Kremer and Robinson in the American Economic Review (Duflo et. al 2011). The researchers tested the impact of offering small scale maize farmers in Busia district of Western Kenya to buy in advance at harvest time fertilisers for the next growing season with free delivery. Forty percent of the farmers who were offered the option to buy in advance did. In the same experiment, Duflo compared the impact on fertiliser use with another group of maize farmers who were offered to buy fertilisers at subsidised prices during the growing season. The impact of offering to buy in advance was equivalent to a 50% subsidy on fertiliser price.

The Value Proposition

A multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to digitize the payment system of the agricultural input supply chain, and increases modern agricultural input use and the penetration of mobile financial services in the rural areas.

The Next Steps

miKashBoks is currently being funded by the United Nations Capital Development Fund(UNCDF) for a country-wide beta run. Before departing from Sierra Leone, I completed the first design sprint for unearthing findings that were then used for structuring the pilot of the platform. The report can be accessed here