iFarmer is a Dhaka-based agri-tech platform that connects farmers with access to finance, training, knowledge, and market. Founded in 2018, the company started by addressing the challenge of finance. To date, iFarmer has worked with some 5000 farmers and has done almost $1.5 million of financing to farmers. iFarmer does not give direct cash to the farmers. Partly because the company does not want to do so and partly because it can’t due to regulatory limitations. Instead, it provides vouchers and other options that farmers can use to buy/access high-quality inputs through iFarmer designated retailers. iFarmer provides input as a service to farmers. Farmers don’t need to give iFarmer anything upfront. Instead, they share profit at the end of the season, which makes it easier for the farmers to repay. iFarmer’s intervention solves both the finance and input challenges for the farmers.
iFarmer collects the investment from retail investors, who are interested in investing in agriculture farms, which then iFarmer invests in farms using a portfolio approach to ensure expected return for investors. One approach to view iFarmer development is that the company is building an ecosystem with an ambition to maximize benefits for both farmers and retail farm investors who invest in these farmers through the iFarmer platform.
It begins with input financing. iFarmer works with retail and institutional investors and collects investment that it uses to finance farmers in the form of providing them agriculture inputs. In exchange, it gets a share of the profit from farmers which it then shares with the retail investors who originally invested in these farms through iFarmer and keeps a commission for itself. The company has also been working with businesses to supply grocery and agriculture products in Dhaka. It coordinates between businesses and farmers to enable the market. Today, iFarmer has built a strong B2B agriculture produce supply business and aims to get into the B2C business in early 2021. Along with finance and inputs, iFarmer now helps farmers to access the market directly bypassing middlemen and thus earn a maximum profit on their products. This turns iFarmer into an ecosystem, which begins with finance and inputs and then completes with access to the market for farmers.
In this dossier, we try to offer a comprehensive understanding of iFarmer, its business and its ambition going forward.