A networking platform, iFarmer, is providing marginal farmers with seed products, trainings and care services and better marketplace opportunities so that they could profit a little higher, said entrepreneurs involved in the initiative.
Jamil M Akbar, one of the co-founder and chief operating officer of iFarmer, said that they were providing the support to 5,000 farmers in Lalmonirhat, Rangpur and Jashore and working to reach at least 50,000 farmers by next year.
The farm funding of the platform, which started operation in February 2018, has reached Tk 10 crore, he said.
He said that iFarmer did not give money, rather it gave products as loans and shared profit after completion of the production-sale cycle of any product.
The networking company collects funds from individuals and invests mainly in cattle, fish and vegetable farming and provides training and other logistics support to the farmers for better production.
The company also makes bridges among investors, farmers and consumers so that the farmers could get better prices and share the profits with farmers and investors.
‘We are different than microfinance and banking organisations as we provide support to the farmers without mortgage and ensure their profits,’ said Jamil.
He explained that risk of the chain was shared with an insurance company.
iFarmer chief executive officer Fahad Ifaz said that incorporation of more farmers was their challenge.
He said that their investors were happy as they were getting more profit than bank interest, farmers were happy as they were getting better prices of products and consumers too were happy as they were sourcing genuine products from farmers directly.
iFarmer charges farmers 10 per cent of their profit as service charge for their logistical supports and others.
Four youths Fahad, Jamil and Munimul Islam from North South University and Shuvo Rahman from BUET established iFarmer.
The company has 35 staff.
It won the ‘Startup with the Most Social Impact’ award from the Swiss Embassy in Bangladesh in 2018.
iFarmer was also one of the top five businesses at the UNDP Youth COLab, a finalist of Echoing Green Social Impact Business 2019, and a winner of UNCDFs Fintech Innovation Fund for Women MSMEs 2019.
Green Delta Insurance Company Limited, Bengal Meat, online commerce such as Khaas Food Ltd, HungryNaki and Priyoshop.com are among others directly involved with iFarmer’s network, officials said.
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