Kenyan Farmers Sow the Seeds of Success with Salesforce
Up to 80% of the population in Kenya survive on subsistence farming, but with more than 60% of those people unable to access formal credit services, turning their way of life into a profitable commercial enterprise can be a distant dream. Juhudi Kilimo is on a mission to change the way farmers do business by offering them affordable financing options. Operating in remote rural areas across Kenya, it empowers small-hold farmers and rural enterprises to create sustainable businesses and improve their livelihoods.
Salesforce has been critical to Juhudi Kilimo’s mission since the very beginning, as CEO Nat Robinson explains: “We’re helping farmers lift themselves out of poverty with Salesforce. It enables us to get credit to the people that need it most.”
With limited resources, Juhudi Kilimo needs to reach as many farmers as possible. “Our business is all about generating large volumes and sustaining high efficiency, since we cannot charge high interest rates to our rural farmers,” comments Robinson.
Since deploying Salesforce in October 2012, Juhudi Kilimo has seen its conversion rates double – it is now adding up to 60 new farms per week.
“When we collected information on paper, it used to get ruined in bad weather,” explains Robinson. “With Sales Cloud, staff can enter information straight into our Farmers Lead Management system.”
By equipping its outreach staff with a tablet and the Salesforce1 Mobile App, Juhudi Kilimo can go that extra mile – literally. As Robinson explains: “Other organizations don’t venture beyond 20 kilometers from the closest rural town. Thanks to the Salesforce1 Mobile App, we can go as far afield as 100 kilometers, which opens up a lot more communities.”
Once a farm has been registered for financial assistance, Juhudi Kilimo uses Salesforce to manage the repayment lifecycle. “We process more than 1,000 transactions per day from 15,000 farms,” comments Robinson.
These transactions are processed by loan tracking and financial management apps from Salesforce AppExchange, with repayments automatically added to the organizations general ledger. “We now have much better visibility of our finances and can check each farm’s repayment status on a daily basis, which makes it easier for us to manage potential risks,” adds Robinson.
Since it issued its first loan in April 2009, Juhudi Kilimo has provided financial assistance worth more than US$ 17 million to over 30,000 rural Kenyan farmers.
To ensure as much money goes towards cultivating a better future for rural communities as possible, the organization needs to keep its own costs low.
“With Salesforce, staff only need to come back to one of our eight field offices once a week, which cuts down on our operational overheads.” comments Robinson. “We can also track the different ways we are reaching people and determine which are the most cost-effective.”
Using technology not only helps Juhudi Kilimo to work smarter, it can also attract smarter people to its 112-strong team. “In one interview, a candidate actually turned down a job offering higher pay because he was so impressed by our use of technology,” reveals Robinson.
“By giving the right people the right tools, we’ll be able to meet our goal of supporting 100,000 farmers by 2015.”