Olaiya Ayotunde Abass is a 26-year-old graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He graduated from the Department of Statistics in Mathematics. He is the CEO of FarmyApp. He discussed the inspiration behind FarmyApp and its services. He also spoke on challenges faced and expectations for his business.
Mr. Ayotunde and I had agreed the night before to discuss his intriguing new idea. He wants to revolutionize how farm produce and supplies are bought and sold. He was particular efficiency and curbing wastage of farm produce. We met at 8:30 am on Saturday, the 27th of June, just before we get busy with our daily activities. He was surprisingly punctual and very alert for that time of the day. His voice was firm and assertive. He was not lacking an ounce of confidence needed to be a pioneer in the oldest occupation in human history.
Before we got talking I asked him if he was nervous and he laughed and said “No. This is not the first time I’m talking about this with someone.” His confidence is contagious.
I asked why he decided to start up FarmyApp and what the inspiration was behind it?
He said the inspiration for the company came 3 years ago during his undergraduate days. He used to help people perform data analysis on their projects. Someone from the Department of Agric Economics asked him to perform some data analysis. During the analysis, he realized that there’s enough data in the agricultural sector for any definitive research. The initial objective of the company was to gather data from farms around the country and correlate them. The data evolved into an “agribusiness agritech” company. The idea of the business is to be the one-stop online platform where farmers can buy and sell their farm produce. They can also trade machinery, labour and farm supplies like fertilizers and pesticides. In theory, this platform will benefit farmers and consumers. Orders can be placed even before harvest season starts. Farmers will price their products for competitive advantage. This will, in turn, drive that food product to its equilibrium price. This method curbs wastage because as long as you are willing and ready to sell someone is waiting to buy. Since there’s a competition between farmers the prices of food items will drop. The biggest gainers from this are the end consumers.
He explained that farmers sell their produce at “ridiculous prices” to avoid wastage. Most farmers sell their produce to middlemen who then resell it at exorbitant prices. Most times, the middlemen make far more profit than the farmer. He wants to cut out the middleman and let farmers sell directly to the consumers. Abass informed me that placing your farm produce on FarmyApp is completely free but you will be charged 3% on every completed transaction. He said, “We are trying to make money while keeping the farmers first.”
This promising entrepreneur promised that he hasn’t abandoned his data gathering idea. It is hard to find people who are willing to work for free so the idea is currently on a shelf. He expressed that when he had this idea of being the saviour of the farmers, he wasn’t thinking of profit. “I saw a problem and wanted to fix it but I talked to potential investors and they ask about returns on their investors? Nobody wants to invest in something that won’t provide returns that’s why we decided to charge 3%.”
I asked him what challenges he has faced so far and he said something that is all too familiar which is funding. The 26-year-old said he is the sole funder of FarmyApp. He confessed that he borrowed money from his parents to fund his ambition with a promise to pay them back. He also said finding people to work for no pay is difficult so “I have had to learn, relearn and unlearn how to develop an app myself because I did not have a tutor.” He also expressed some difficulty in conceiving farmers to use his platform because they believe it is too good to be true. He assured me that he will convert them from “doubting Thomas” to believers. You see that confidence I was talking about earlier? So refreshing.
Towards the end of our conversation, I asked him what his expectations for his company were. He said “our goal for the next two years is to have at least 1 million farmers actively using our platform. After that we expect the platform to grow exponentially from 1 million to about 6 million in 5 years, going beyond the borders of Nigeria to spread around the world especially to other parts of West Africa”.
Olaiya Ayotunde Abass is a breath of fresh air for young people around the world, especially in Nigeria. He is fulfilling a need that we never knew we were lacking. We at L’avis Magazine wish him the very best in his endeavours.