The COVID-19 Business Info Hub met with Carol Kakooza of aXiom Zorn to understand how data and digital profiles have enabled them to crack the biggest mystery of agricultural lending in Uganda. Here is the full interview.

Benefits of the digital profile to a smallholder farmer 

  • aXiom Zorn offers data as a service solution to small holder farmers across the country.
  • The data is used to develop digital social profiles for the farmers.
  • Profiling captures data on; land and ownership, the productivity of the farmer, household economic status, social belonging and financial history.
  • The data is analyzed to assess farmers’ financial capacity, which builds into the credit score.
  • The credit score gives the individual points at different levels, and a score of 60% enables the farmer to access funding from the bank.
  • The loans are disbursed via mobile money to avoid transport costs to the bank.
  • The credit score is also a basis for the farmer to access farm and micro health insurance.
  • Before profiling, individuals learn about the benefits of having a digital profile and consent to provide the data.

To get your digital profile contact us on:  +256 200 903 099 or info@axiomzorn.com

Tell us about yourself and your company.

My name is Carol Kakooza, Chief Executive Officer of aXiom Zorn. I am passionate about looking out for people in the lower pyramid to get essential services. Through my experience working with farmers in South America, I noted that many could not access banks’ financing. Banks did not provide funding because they had no records, and lending to them was very risky. I related it to the situation back home, given that 80% of Ugandans depend on agriculture. That is how aXiom Zorn came to be to build farmers’ integrity and authenticity through a digital social profile.

aXiom Zorn is a one-stop enterprise offering data as a service solution for institutional clients and service providers. aXiom Zorn collects individual and community data, analyses it, and processes it to provide historical, current, and predictive views for business operations. The company’s growing database consists of:

  • 358,000+ smallholder farmers
  • 3,600 extension workers
  • 3,000 agro-dealers
  • 214 aXiom Zorn agents
  • 135 veterinary officers
  • 140 agro-input suppliers

The company’s other value-added services include soil mapping, fertilizer optimization, an e-voucher system, farm field management, weather alerts, and agronomic tips.

 

How is aXiom Zorn using data to facilitate lending within the agriculture sector?

After realizing that credit and insurance service providers find it hard to trust smallholder farmers because of risks such as; lack of collateral, high transaction cost and costs associated with locating widespread members. Production is susceptible to adverse weather and seasonal price fluctuations that affect the farmers’ profitability.

We developed digital profiles to de-risk farmers to enable them to access financial services. Here are the key steps taken to create the profile:

  1. At the beginning of the profiling, we have to ask for consent from the farmers.
  2. Within the consent, we show them the advantages and benefits of having a digital profile.
  3. The aXiom Zorn agent profiles by collecting data on various parameters, including farmer’s biodata, land ownership, the productivity of the farmer, household economic status (the nature of the house, school fee needs), next of kin, and social reputation.
  4. Using the data, we assess the farmers’ financial capacity and develop a credit score.
  5. The credit score gives the individual points at different levels and later used by the bank to provide funding.

Today, we partner with two financial service providers Centenary Bank and Stanbic Bank Uganda. They use our data to provide direct agriculture loans to farmers and agribusinesses with a credit score of 60%. We encourage these banks to send the loans via mobile money to save the money used in transportation, allowing the borrower to use the funds in an optimum way. We have integrated farm (weather index) and micro health insurance. The farmer pays UGX 37,000 on a seasonal basis (six months) to cover 1 acre of the farm, and if they need to cover an extra acre, they pay an extra UGX 12,000. On the premium of UGX 37,000, a constant of UGX 25,000 is paid to cover micro health insurance, protecting two adults and four children for health and life cover. So should one of the adults die during the season, the family can get access to UGX 5 million, which the family can use to re-pay any outstanding loans. We have also extended digitization into the marketing ecosystem using the market linkage application to ensure that people can still sell their products.

 

What should the sector look out for during this period of the pandemic?

I encourage the sector to embrace digitization and digital solutions for business continuity. Similarly, agriculture should never stop because the land is still here; COVID -19 has not taken away our rain and the two planting seasons. Stakeholders developing innovative agricultural solutions need to co-create these with communities. At aXiom Zorn, we continue to support farmer communities during this time across the country. Our target is to hit 1 million farmer profiles, and our Digital Agriculture Reference Bureau (DARB) will launch. The DARB provides reliable information critical for decisions to promote agriculture sector resilience.

 

To learn more about our data solutions, contact;

Tel: +256 200 951 713/+256 200 903 099

Email: info@axiomzorn.com

Website: https://axiomzorn.com/