Capacity Development for Platform Operators

29 platforms from 3 countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya
D4Ag Training by Make-IT in Africa & Deloitte Digital
from the 26th of October until 4th of November 2020
to build capacities and make AgTech platforms ready for third-party integrations

Capacity Development for PlatForm Operators

Bridging potential between platforms and start-ups

“There are millions of farmers out there like my mother who have issues accessing quality crops or connecting to input and service suppliers and they also need access to financial services. For each of these services they need to travel to the next farm station.” Jerry Oche from Zowasel, a Nigerian marketplace platform that enables trading commodities, explains the challenges of sourcing for rural farmers.

Emerging AgTech start-ups in Africa have the potential in tackling such challenges by offering digital solutions that provide for example bookings for tractors, monitoring tools for pest and disease threats, weather forecasts, or services for loans and insurance. However, despite the pressing need of farmers to access their solutions, many of the innovative agricultural service providers face challenges to scale their solutions to a sufficient number of farmers in order to become profitable.

As a response, a plethora of digital platforms has emerged in Africa, which aim at connecting smallholder farmers to a range of farming services that are provided by such innovative Agtech start-ups. The trick – a digital platform can host multiple service providers. Thereby, the platform can function as a one-stop-shop for farmers and other actors along the value chain, providing better access to markets and services, such as extension services, financial services, mechanization services, advisory and information services.

This one-stop-shop benefits everyone. Start-ups can benefit from offering their product or service on a digital platform that substantially increases their reach and user base. Platforms can unlock a huge business potential from on-boarding such third-parties as this expands their service offering and generates additional revenue streams for the platforms. Lastly, farmers can access quality inputs, loans, insurances, logistics services through one platform as an “end-to-end” service, improving their productivity and income.

D4Ag by Make-IT in Africa recognizes digital agricultural platforms as main drivers for scaling up and accessing markets for young breakthrough AgTech start-ups by integrating them as third-party providers.

However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Many challenges may arise from setting up business and revenue models that are equally attractive for both platform operators and start-ups, harmonizing and adhering to legal standards, as well as building the necessary technical infrastructure for a successful integration.

So, how to kick start your platform?

In order to help platform operators to overcome such challenges, D4Ag by Make-IT in corporation with Deloitte Digital offered a Capacity Development Program for Platform Operators aiming at pushing existing platforms to the next level.

Over two weeks, 29 platform operators from Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana participated in virtual training sessions. Focusing on the two core topics, Business Models and Legal Frameworks, the platform operators learned how to develop viable business models and which legal aspects to consider regarding data and partnerships.

Source: giz, Participants of the virtual training sessions

 

The Business Model track gave a holistic overview of attractive and sustainable business models for platform operators and the benefits and risks that come with each model. Deep dives focused on the choice of revenue models, incentive creation for third-parties and partnership management.

By introducing several design thinking canvases on platform business model design and value design, the participants were given specific tools, which can help in setting up a roadmap and visualize value propositions to all stakeholders involved. Through interactive breakout sessions, these frameworks were applied on several case studies. One case study addressed the challenge of developing revenue models that are beneficial for all parties involved. Here, the participants and consultants discussed questions like how to identify key transactions, monetize such and how to handle agriculture sector specific characteristics such as fluctuating demand for services due to harvesting periods. One key takeaway was that a combination of different revenue models might be recommendable depending on the nature of different service providers.

“The training covered many things we were doing already but we didn’t properly capture it before. Now we could put it down on paper and got external validation that we are on the right track.” Jerry Oche, Zowasel

Source: giz. Example of a team work task on value design conducted virtually through Mural

 

Since most of the participant’s platforms create value through connecting farmers and third-parties, another focus was set on value proposition to the partners and partnership management. A case study helped in developing criteria for identifying and evaluating potential third parties. Moreover, participants’ experience with onboarding processes and partner engagement were discussed and rounded off with a set of principles for successful third-party integrations.

The second learning block focused on Legal Frameworks. Deloitte’s local experts in Nigeria and Kenya gave insights regarding the legal aspects of partnership agreements when integrating a third-party on a digital platform.

Many of the participating platform operators shared that third-party integration processes often include long, complex negotiations. Frequently, these endeavors even fail due to uncertainties in dealing with diverting data policies and concerns about data sharing and data ownership. Therefore, key takeaways focused on data protection regulations and harmonizing compliance standards of partners, while always keeping in mind the sensitivity of data collected from smallholder farmers, who are at the most vulnerable end.

“With confidentiality agreements I can protect my business and the users of the platform at the same time.” Ekanikpong Ben, FarmX

Even though the workshop was conducted virtually, networking was not neglected and a vibrant atmosphere and discussions could be created in breakout rooms and virtual coffee breaks.

Source: giz. Collection of the participant’s highlights of the training

 

Making AgTech platforms start-up ready

The training complemented the previous capacity building programme for AgTech start-ups aiming at making them platform-ready. Sensitizing the platforms on legal aspects regarding data protection regulations as well as data-sharing agreements and fair partnership models in general may facilitate a mutual understanding of potential partners.

“For me, one of the major take-aways was understanding the different value creations among the peer partners on a platform and that revenue doesn’t have to be one-sided but can be shared.” Harriet, Farm to Market Alliance

In short, it is a win-win situation. Not only do platforms benefit from scaling up through the integration of multiple service providers but also start-ups unlock advantages from being represented and available on emerging platforms. They can increase their user base, access a vast network of farmers and consequently decrease risks, while at the same time generate new revenue streams for their business.

A selection of promising platforms that participated in the Capacity Development for Platform Operators workshop is currently receiving individual coaching sessions by Deloitte Digital in order to optimize their third-party integration process. D4Ag by Make-IT in Africa continues to broker partnerships between start-ups and platform operators and is looking forward to future activities that build capacities and cooperation in order to maximize the impact of digital innovations and fully exploit the possibilities of the digital world in agriculture.

 

Learn more about D4Ag here Digital for Agriculture – D4Ag – Make-IT in Africa (make-it-initiative.org

For more information on Deloitte Digital, please visit www.deloittedigital.de

For more information on Deloitte’s legal services in Nigeria and Kenya, please visit https://www2.deloitte.com/ng/en.html or https://www2.deloitte.com/ke/en.html

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