Solidaridad has won a USD 1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Smart Farming Innovations for Small-Scale Producers Grand Challenge. The grant will focus on digital innovation, integration and partnerships in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

Over the next two years, Solidaridad will implement and expand the reach of “Kvuno,” a decentralized digital service model incubated by Solidaridad to lower the cost of providing last-mile services to smallholder farmers in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Kvuno utilizes a range of digital tools to develop smart farming service packages, integrating innovative and low-cost deployment strategies, leveraging youth and community networks, and aggregating and ethically monetizing data. 

Small-scale producers often lack internet access, mobile phones, or struggle with time limitations or illiteracy. Kvuno reaches them using digital technologies, community networks, and internet tools to efficiently manage relationships and facilitate last-mile transactions between small-scale producers, input and service providers, and markets.

Kvuno agents in a hub in Katete, Zambia organize soil test reports for delivery to the farmers in Katete, Nyimba and Petauke Districts.

This grant will contribute to our mission to reach 500,000 smallholder farmers in Southern Africa by 2025 and over 5 million hectares across East, Central, and Southern Africa by 2030. Kvuno’s approach focuses on developing lean, affordable, and scalable technology solutions that bundle services and connect farmers to information and services that can help them become profitable, commercial small-scale producers.

Kvuno uses innovative strategies, such as Farmer to Farmer support, digital identities, digital interactions, communal smartphones, and incentives. Kvuno will also partner with other service providers and leverage smart farming innovations to expand the service bundles offered to farmers, scaling up the number of Kvuno service centers in the process. By testing new innovations and leveraging partnerships, Kvuno aims to reduce last mile service delivery costs to US$ 10 or less per farmer per year.

Lead farmers are on-boarded to the digital platform that they will use to register, train, and support fellow farmers in their farming circles to access Kvuno’s services.

Moreover, we intend to convert the proprietary Kvuno service centers into open last-mile delivery centers, enabling other service providers to access the pool of small-scale producers linked to Kvuno. This will further reduce last mile service delivery costs by including several services channeled through Kvuno centers. This will help Kvuno achieve greater efficiencies and scale up, while continuing to serve the needs of smallholder farmers in Africa.

The project also includes a robust learning agenda to improve operational efficiencies and strengthen Kvuno’s viability as a social enterprise.

Read more about Kvuno here.