Using technology to promote social good is not a novel idea. Leveraging technology to promote social change inspires the launch social justice organizations and civic hacking events. After attending demo events on how the latest technology (social media, VR, etc.) will improve X cause, I walk away impressed. However, I am blown away when the technology solution is not always the latest; in fact, when technology goes back to basics to find a fix, all the better.
FarmDrive, a small organization based in Kenya, helps farmers establish lending relationships with financial institutions. Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire are the founders of the mobile, SMS-based platform. FarmDrive develops credit histories for farmers seeking loans to support their business. Three-thousand farmers are signed up on the platform. In 2016, FarmDrive worked with a financial partner, which disbursed about $130,000 in loans to ~400 farmers. The monetary distributor helps farmers cover anticipated expenses such as seeds, fertilizer, livestock healthcare, among others.
FarmDrive is one of a wave of financial tech startups trying to widen access to finance in poorer countries. Others include Branch and Lenddo, which combine data on social media habits and cell phone usage. More technologically advanced mobile services include variables such as extension service advice and commodity market pricing to bridge the information gap between larger and smaller farmers.