Tulaa: Credit, Advice, and Market Access for Farmers

In this episode, we talk with Hillary Miller-Wise, the founder and CEO of Tulaa, in their office in Nairobi. Tulaa uses mobile technology and artificial intelligence to enable smallholder farmers to purchase inputs, get advice, and connect with buyers. We discuss layering technology on human networks, the 80/20 rule, tech debt, farmers’ willingness to pay for information, and more.

Highlights

“They weren't using [the app] and we couldn't figure out why because it was definitely going to be so much easier than what they were doing… We had expected a certain comfort level with tech that I think was not there…So we went back to the drawing board and didn't necessarily change the app, but we just were much better about providing training and support to the retailers.”

“Just because you send an SMS to a farmer doesn't mean that it's going to cause him to change how he's been farming for the last 10 years. So there's a whole kind of change element that has to happen in conjunction with the technology and it's why I'm saying that we layer our technology on human networks.”

“There are probably about 20% of the overall problems that farmers could be facing that are driving… 80% of the loss in value. So of all the different pests and diseases that could happen, probably 20% of them are contributing to 80% of the problems.”

“The technical debt was starting to impede on every new product we wanted to build… and it was at that point that we kind of said, ‘Stop everything.’”

“These farmers have very few sources, almost none, to get this information [on how to grow the crop, how to deal with certain pests and disease, etc]… The problem that was found in the industry is that farmers’ willingness to pay for that information is zero.”

Learn More

  • To learn more about Tulaa, check out their website at tulaa.io.

Julia Neidert