The big idea: iFarmer is a Dhaka-based agri-tech platform that connects farmers with access to finance, training, knowledge, and market. On the other side, the company enables individuals to invest their money in a farm (equity financing model). The company offers both regular and sharia-compliant investment options. The company then works closely with these farmers and enables them to sell to a large buyer effectively eliminating middlemen. iFarmer was originally started as a side project in 2018 as an Uber for Urban Farming. The idea did not fly and the founders eventually pivoted to its current model.
The nuts and bolts of iFarmer business:
- Retail investors: iFarmer offers farm assets as an investment opportunity for retail middle-income investors. They can invest through iFarmer website and soon to be launched app, get a regular update on their investment, reinvest, cash out, etc.
- Farmers: On the backend, iFarmer onboards farmers who can absorb these investments. The company has field facilitators and agents who conduct the onboarding. Initially, the onboarding was mostly done through a manual process. The company is now moving to a tech-enabled service where the farmers themselves or with the help of our iFarmer agents and field facilitators can create their profile, apply for finance and so on.
- Data connecting both: At the core of iFarmer is data. The company says it collects some 40 data points from each farmer to understand the risk factors, their socio-economic behavior and most importantly farming outcomes. The company plans to connect these data to offer more services to the farmers, such as farm input, insurance, banking products and so on. The company says it is already connecting the farm outcome to work on an efficient b2b supply chain.
How iFarmer makes money: Currently, iFarmer charges a commission from the retail investors. The also gets a commission on the final sales of the farm produce. In the near future, the company eyes revenue from insurance companies, input companies and so on, who can use iFarmer platform to reach out to new customer segments.
Funding: iFarmer has just closed its seed round from a Singapore based VC, Angels from Singapore, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The company is one of the five startups in Accelerating Asia’s second cohort.
The state of iFarmer business: iFarmer is currently working with 1200 farmers. The company says it has facilitated more than 4 crore taka to these farmers in about 11 months from a few hundred investors and is growing at 50% MoM.
- The company says it has been building the tech and business model to support the big players such as banks and NBFIs to be able to finance different actors in the agriculture value chain.
- While iFarmer started with livestock farms of various types and cycles, the company says it will move into fruit farms, cash-crops, and agri-machineries soon.
Go Deeper: iFarmer’s Fahad Ifaz Talks Building an Agriculture Finance and Supply Chain Company, iFarmer’s Business, How Ideas Evolve, and Running a Startup