This time we bring to you Kilimo Fresh foods Africa that trades and markets all type of foods while reducing post-harvest losses through cold storage and powering all activities with renewable energy. Kilimo Fresh works hand in hand with small holder farmers to not only improve agricultural practices but also connects them to the market and final consumer. Their motto is ‘Fresh produced at your doorstep.’ Their offices are located at Mkunguni street in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The company was established in 2018 and was founded by Baraka Chijenga, Justice Mangu and Faith Pella with an aim of solving challenges in the agricultural sector such as post-harvest loses, inadequacy of market suppliers, poor quality and low quantity of yield. With Kilimo Fresh products are sustainably produced, freshly harvested, washed, packed ready for delivery from the farms of smallholder farmers to right to your door step.
Farming as a challenge solved by Kilimo Fresh
In the year 2015 Mr. Baraka and his friend Mr. Justice Mangu graduated from Mzumbe University with a bachelor degree in Entrepreneurship, at that time they shared a common interest in farming and therefore opted to pursue their passion. Baraka says, “We did farming for three to four years but faced challenges such as access to market and selling a lot of produces to middlemen who paid us at very low prices, the profit margins were low, that’s when we decided to change our business model by trying to study the market for over a year in Tanzania and other neighboring countries as well, that’s when we discovered through our research that small holder farmers were facing similar challenges for instance being paid very low margins by the middlemen.”
Baraka and Justice collaborated with Faith Pella to start Kilimo Fresh so as to help the farmers get access to the market as well as paying them stable prices in order for them to increase their production quality and quality, and in the long-run improve their livelihoods and qualities of their lives. Kilimo Fresh began with smallholder farmers in mind.
Kilimo Fresh Business Model
Kilimo Fresh operates in two models one is the business to business (B2B) customers where they pay visits physically to schools, restaurants, hotels and leave them with a price list, anytime they want to place an order they can either call them or send an email and the goods will be delivered the next day. For B2B customers Baraka says, “We have what we call the ‘Food Soldiers’ these are sales executives who go door to door visiting our B2B customers. For the type of products we are selling its critical that you create and nature good relationships with your customers to firstly understand what problems they may be facing in accessing the produces, what prices they are the buying or wish to by, where are they buying from, once you understand that you can customize the service based on what they desire.”
The second type is the B2C customers they have an online platform kilimofresh.co.tz where the customers can go to their site and will see a list of all of their products with respective prices. So, a customer can place an order and the goods will be delivered within 60 minutes therefore it is a same day delivery. Baraka says, “We reach this type of customers through a marketing person whose job is to advertise the products online via different platforms such as Facebook ads, search engine marketing, Instagram and our partners like the food delivery services who do marketing on our behalf.”
The team of Kilimo Fresh also focuses on training the “food soldiers” of the ways to communicate with customers and build strong relationship, this helps in grooming the service providers to be more effective in attending to customers queries and more efficient in delivering the services as per set standards.
Kilimo Fresh has also tapped into the export market, Baraka informs that they have a 27 acres farm located in Morogoro which they are currently growing harbone cherries and exporting to the United Kingdom,. Their long-term plan is to tap into other international markets like the rest of Europe, Asia and North America. They have also worked in partnership with caterers from different government projects such as the standard gauge and the Stigler gorge hydro power project.
Kilimo Fresh on the COVID 19 Impact
The effects of Covid-19 on consumer behavior took a drastic change that led to a greater adoption of social media and growth in sales through the e-commerce.
Baraka say, “Covid 19 disrupted the food supply chain from the production, processing to distribution as well as consumption, we lost 80% of our customers because our primarily customers are the B2B customers and during the pandemic most of these institutions were closed down as well as the fact that public gatherings and engagements were restricted.”
Baraka adds, “We had farmers who were already harvesting produce and needed to sell to the market, so together as a team brainstormed and came up with the home delivery services which was not part of our business model before Covid-19.”
The Challenges faced
Worrying over something that is new with no any solid guarantee of its future happens to everyone. Baraka shares with us about the challenges encountered then and now. “Going back in time I would worry less about the future because whether you make bad decisions or good decisions it is part of the learning process currently the challenge we are facing is logistics because of the infrastructure challenges; farmers produce food and consumers are waiting to buy and eat the foods in a timely fashion but the process of the attaining the resources are acquired, storing and transporting them to their final destination is an issue. Moving forwards, our desire is to enhance and maximize our services through attaining our own fleet of tracks that would make transportation of the produce from farmers to our customers easier and improve the downtime.”
Achievements so far
Finding what people call a ‘product market fit’ in any business takes hard work, time, patience and a lot of research, Kilimo Fresh can proudly say they have accomplished that for they are in a point where they can attract different investors without pushing too hard.
In 2020 Kilimo Fresh participated in the MEST Africa Challenge that included different companies from Africa from each country one winner is selected among ten competitors, then the winners from different countries compete with other start-ups and Kilimo Fresh came up as champions, they were awarded with 50,000 US dollars which also helped them attract three other investors.
In the late November 2020, a competition was prepared by Ndoto Hub sponsored by the UNDP, HDIF and the Embassy of Netherlands where it focused on initiatives that managed to stay afloat during the Corona Virus, 20 out of 300 companies were selected to participate, they went for a one-week boot camp and Kilimo Fresh was among the 10 companies selected were each company received a sum of 10,000 dollars.
The Agri-business value chain
Baraka unfolds to us his vision for the future as it pertains to the agriculture industry of Tanzania, “Tanzania is still a virgin market in terms of Agriculture and the soil is so fertile, people export raw materials and we buy back finished goods, so there is opportunity in improving production, the quality of our goods and exporting finished goods so that whatever we are selling from inside is better than what we buying from outside, currently we are working on a platform for informal street vendors, because most of them buy goods from public market and have trouble accessing the produce, so we want them to be able to access all the produce from Kilimo Fresh so we are looking forward to introduce delivery services to all the informal street vendors for there are more than one million informal vendors in major cities of Tanzania and 70% of people buy goods from them so it is a very big market for us and we are looking forward to tapping into this market.”
He adds, “For the international market they are soon going to launch a platform where importers or businesses from different countries around the world can access and see the products from the quality to the size to the price then they’ll be able to get a quotation then once they confirm the order we ship it. We look forward to have a chain of small holder farmers who will be trained on growing these products, produce quality goods, using proper farming techniques and practices and in a sustainable manner.
Lastly Baraka says, “Farmers need to understand what the market wants in terms of the quality also stakeholders need to provide farmers with marketing information every now and then; a message to youth who find the industry of agriculture as unsophisticated need to understand that there are plenty of untapped opportunities, you do not need to be necessarily be a farmer rather you can be a distributor, a transporter or a processor, you just need to know where in the value chain that you fit, add value and take advantage of that.”
For further details of Kilimo Fresh visit Tech & Media Convergency (TMC)’s YouTube channel for a full video interview https://youtu.be/edgmI2CYFDY , like, share and subscribe for more groundbreaking stories. One can also access the online conversation about Kilimo Fresh across all Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) social media platforms using the hash tag #ImpactTechTZ
To read more about our reports featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report