Ahhhh! You're going too fast. Slow down. Pole pole ("slowly"). Please. The driver of the pickup couldn't help but take potholes and speed bumps like a race car driver. Or, at least it felt like that from the top of the onion pile. 30 bags of high quality red onions and 5 people hung off of this 20 year old blue pickup. What could we expect, David lives in the country, and he often carries cargo for fellow farmers and traders. At the wheel, this was meant to be fun.
"Twende, twende" said Paul, the day laborer and farmer who helped pack these onions. He enjoyed the short thrill ride across town. After a hard day's work on the ground, flying through the air was a nice break.
That day in early February market our first successful use of the platform. When a registered farmer told us they were ready to sell, we hustled to their farm. After we checked their harvest for quality - lots of random and not-so-random sampling, cross-checking of grading characteristics and hot hours in the sun - we approved their crop. They sent a SELL SMS to the platform and we began harvesting the next day.
Bora Exchange is meant to make real-time matches between smallholder farmers and wholesale traders. It does that by collecting asks and bids throughout the day and matching based on a number of factors, especially quantity and price.
Creating a mobile-based double-sided marketplace in rural Kenya is not a fast process. Many questions and mistakes make it difficult to get traction going at lightening speed. We proposed that we could make our first few trades by mimicing the trade over a few days. We would use our own capital to purchase onions, and then wait until traders were matched at the same price. In order to participate farmers and traders would have to go through the process of using the platform. Satisfied users who wanted to buy or sell again, would then have confidence in our services and be able to use the platform with confidence.
Farmers responded well to our on-farm purchases. They were particularly thrilled with our transparency in pricing, weighing and grading. So much so that one farmer traded with us twice!
Riding on the top of that truck was a symbol of our progress in Kabati. At times we want to go fast and show everyone the platform. At other times we know to play it slow, so that each users understands the platform well enough to recommend and reuse it. Twende twende, pole pole.