The importance of teamwork in achieving success in any business cannot be overstated. At Hello Tractor, we are committed to forming strategic partnerships with customers whose values are similar to ours and whose customer base aligns with those we are targeting. Doing this enables us to increase our reach and impact to smallholder farmers while also providing value to our partners through increased revenue and access to new markets.
Since 2019, Hello Tractor has partnered with AAS to expand access to mechanization across Uganda. To date, that partnership has yielded in over 6,000 farmers mechanized, covering over 5,000 hectares serviced by 23 tractor owners, each earning additional income from better managing their tractors and accessing more farmers using Hello Tractor Technology. We recently sat down with Innocent Kaahwa and Labeja Ceasar from AAS to discuss how their engagement with Hello Tractor began and the experience they have had so far.
To begin, please introduce AAS and the work that you do?
AAS is an agribusiness service provider that offers technical, financial, advisory, and management services across the agricultural value chain. We facilitate investments, developmental projects and key interventions geared towards profitable and viable agriculture. Our clients include SMEs, multinationals corporations, development organizations, cooperatives, financial institutions, farmer associations and government initiatives. We are based in Uganda, but we have been involved in projects and programs in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sudan, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, Germany, Netherlands, and the United States. Our mission is to provide the best agribusiness professional services with efficiency and integrity to ensure maximum satisfaction of our clients geared towards increased productivity and agricultural development. At the end of the day, agriculture remains a key component of everything that we do. We help farmers access finance and mechanization services and provide training on how to use new technologies. All of our work can easily be evaluated through numbers and the positive impact we have on the agricultural space in Uganda and East Africa in general.
How did the partnership between Hello Tractor and AAS begin?
Hello Tractor and AAS have both been operating at the intersection of technology and agriculture for the last few years, but the partnership between the two organizations really kicked off a year and a half ago. The opportunity came when Africa Agribusiness began reselling Hello Tractor’s telematics devices and application services in Uganda with the goal of increasing access to tractor services and making it easier for farmers to purchase their own tractors. Africa Agribusiness Services was able to market key features of Hello Tractor’s technology such as remote monitoring of tractors, acreage calculations of farms and the ability to check fuel levels. Just like Hello Tractor, we try to maintain great relationships with tractor owners and provide after-sales support by communicating with them often and assisting them if they run into any issues using the technology. Purchasing a tractor is quite an investment, so we want them to feel confident about their purchase while simultaneously increasing access to mechanization services across East Africa.
Photo Credit: AAS
What does being a Hello Tractor technology reseller mean for your business?
AAS has been the sole provider of Hello Tractor’s telematics device and IoT application in East Africa since the partnership started in 2019. The goal was to increase the number of devices in the market by starting with Ugandan tractor dealerships with whom we already have strong relations. We started with the dealers because they are the ones who sell the majority of the tractors, and we felt like we could have the biggest impact in a short period of time by selling the benefits of the technology and showing them why it’s a great add-on for any new tractors that they sold in Uganda. One of the first dealers we brought on board was John Deere, who provides attractive tractor financing (in areas where they provide their tractors) at an affordable rate with manageable loan repayments over a reasonable period of time. We retain access to the tractor owner app and monitor the work being completed by loan recipients on behalf of John Deere. We can see how many hours the tractor is active, what location it is in, whether there are any mechanical issues etc, and can use all this information to decipher whether a tractor owner will be able to continue to make payments on his loan from John Deere. We can do all this without having to contact the tractor owner directly.
Another way that AAS acts as an intermediary between dealership and tractor owners is that we regularly communicate with the tractor owners. Often, people who purchase tractors complain that the only time they receive calls is when they are defaulting or late on payments. We have stepped in to communicate regularly with tractor owners to see what work is being done or if the tractor needs maintenance. Africa Agribusiness Services can also remotely monitor tractors on behalf of the tractor owners as well, informing them when the tractor has suddenly moved to another county in Uganda or has been out of service for an extended period of time. Dealerships often do not have the manpower to continue to monitor the tractors after they leave the dealership or provide that level of support.
Photo Credit: AAS
How have you benefited from the partnership and what are some of your goals moving forward?
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to form a number of significant partnerships with agricultural organizations that were willing to purchase tractors but do not know how to manage them. Our target is to increase tractor sales with the Hello Tractor devices already attached to the tractors. Our partnership with Hello Tractor has helped expand the services that we offer to dealers and individuals and has additionally increased access to mechanization services for farmers in Uganda.
AAS has shown great resilience during the pandemic, despite numerous challenges. Revenue decreased due to the difficult economic situation since March 2020, but we have still been able to expand our services into new parts of Uganda, particularly the southern parts. Money has not been our focus; we want to have a positive impact on those who are suffering from the pandemic and will continue to support smallholder farmers and tractor owners. We hope to expand our reach even further beyond Uganda and have more of an influence on the East African agricultural space. Once district-to-district movements become easier, we expect to have an even greater impact on the customers we serve. We are very thankful for our partnership with Hello Tractor during this difficult period.
If you would like to learn more about AAS and all the great work they are doing in Uganda, you can visit them at www.aagribusiness.com. To become a Hello Tractor partner, please click the button below to sign up.