In January 2022, Hello Tractor leveraged data gathered from its 8-year learnings, building technology that de-risks the African agricultural ecosystem, to launch an innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) financing product for tractors that is anticipated to change the face of Agriculture across Africa.
Heifer International seeded this critical work with $4.5M in catalytic funding, enabling the portfolio to grow to over $5M currently and unlocking our ability to:
- finance and handover 104 tractors to young entrepreneurs across Kenya, Nigeria & Uganda
- service 21,048 smallholder farmers
- empower 250+ youth to work in agriculture
- secure partnerships with 5 manufacturers and dealers in the regions to supply tractors, implements, and after-sales support
- achieve increased visibility in the agricultural space through major press opportunities
- leverage commercial capital to scale up the product
This product could not have entered the market at a more critical time when there is intense pressure on the global food supply chain due to issues like the war in Russia & Ukraine as well as climate change. It’s common knowledge that Africa has the potential to feed the world, but the reality is that when there are critical global challenges, farmers, especially those on the African continent, are often disproportionally impacted.
This makes action on growing productivity and improving resiliency a non-negotiable – and this is what our PAYG financing for tractors product is addressing. By injecting more farm equipment into the African market, we are making it easier for smallholder farmers to access labour for their farms while creating economic opportunities for youth and women across the continent.
The Journey & Lessons Over the Last Year
Philanthropic Funding as a Catalyst for Change
The financing we received from Heifer International has proven to us just how catalytic philanthropic funding can be in not only helping us fully roll out our PAYG financing but also serving as a pathway to crowding in more funding to support our work from industry giants like John Deere.
We now know that we can in fact crowd in the private sector to provide the necessary financial resources to push our innovative PAYG solution further and enable us to finance more young entrepreneurs across the continent for a more sustainable global food system.
Impact in Numbers
Smallholder Farmers Serviced
PAYG Customers across Nigeria, Kenya & Uganda
Booking Agent Jobs Created
Tractor Operator Jobs Created
“Before now, whenever I needed a tractor to service my farm, I would have to follow the tractor operator around, farm after farm, before I could get a turn. This led to delays in planting my crops which meant that I was loosing income. But now, we have more tractors available in my community and I’m able to get service on time which makes me really happy! ” – Nuhu Magi Biko, Smallholder Farmer
Addressing Skills Gaps in the Agriculture Sector Through our Tractor Operator Training Programme
When tractors are not handled by trained professional operators, their lifespan is unduly shortened due to mismanagement which leads to frequent breakdowns. In a recent survey we carried out, 93% of our tractor owners indicated that their tractor operators did not have any formal training on how to operate a tractor. This makes it clear as day the reason why the useful life of a tractor in Africa is only a fraction of what it is everywhere else around the world.
The financing from Heifer International has been catalytic in helping us start a Tractor Operator Training programme, in partnership with key equipment manufacturers and dealers. Through the programme, we have trained 157 operators to date with 22% of them being women. We will continue to build on this work as we move into the future to empower young men and women with job opportunities in agriculture while ensuring that tractors within the markets where we work are properly managed to increase their useful lifespan.
Improving Tractor Upkeep and Performance through Tractor Technician Training & BNPL Offering for Spare Parts & Fuel
In order to minimize tractor downtime and ensure that these assets are protected long-term, we leveraged the Heifer financing to launch a technician training programme that allows us properly train and certify tractor technicians so they can provide relevant repair and maintenance services to tractor owners or operators on the field.
We have additionally been able to roll out a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) fuel and spare parts feature that will allow PAYG customers to receive financing for clean diesel as well as original spare parts to preserve the lifespan of their equipment.
Hello Tractor staff with trained technicians
Trained technician practicing on a tractor
Trained female technician
Training in session
Financing as an Incentive for Behavioural Change
The success of our PAYG financing program has demonstrated that finance can indeed be a powerful incentive for behavioural change, breaking down gender barriers and promoting inclusive economic growth.
1/3rd of our PAYG customers are women when prior to the launch of this financing scheme, there were only 2 women who owned tractors in our entire portfolio of 3000 tractors on our platform.
Access to finance is a critical barrier to entry for women seeking to engage in agriculture. By leveraging the Heifer financing to offer affordable and accessible financing for tractors with a huge gender inclusivity focus, we are moving closer to gender parity and creating more equitable and sustainable food systems that benefit everyone.
Financing as a Tool to Foster the Adoption of Regenerative Agricultural Practices
The Heifer financing has paved the way for us to create our first technology hub which we have equipped with climate-smart implements for rent (as well as other wrap-around services) to increase the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices amongst smallholder farmers.
1/4th of our financed tractors currently offer regenerative agriculture services and our goal is to continue to grow this number as we build more technology hubs across the regions where we work.
The Resulting Pipeline
The support we have received from Heifer International has also opened doors to secure additional funding to scale up the PAYG product.
Absa Bank and John Deere: We have secured commercial investment from Absa Bank, through a credit guarantee provided by John Deere, to the tune of $5M which will allow Hello Tractor to finance at least another 100 tractors and implements across East Africa.
Kuza Fund: We have also secured an additional $1M from Kuza Fund which will allow us to scale up our drought response work in Kenya. This work is critical because millions of people across the country have been negatively affected by this drought over the last 3 years and it is important that the damage is curbed as soon as possible.
The funding will help us finance more bailing and foraging equipment to collect grass & straw, fortify them and send them as animal protein to draught-affected markets within the Heifer dairy supply chain. We anticipate that this will support livestock pastoralists in protecting their cattle which is oftentimes their only means of surviving.
Equity Bank and CASE IH: Equity Bank in partnership with CASE IH has also committed to financing additional tractors to support our PAYG work.
Press & Recognition
Hello Tractor has garnered significant press and recognition since receiving financing from Heifer International to implement our PAYG product. The partnership has given us invitations to high-level events including The Clinton Global Initiative Meeting & The African Leaders Summit.
Hello Tractor at the Clinton Global Initiative 2022 Meeting
Hello Tractor & John Deere at the African Leaders Summit 2023
We also had the honor of receiving FLOTUS, Dr Jill Biden, at our office where she, alongside ambassador Meg. Whitman, recognised our top PAYG performers and the Climate Justice award winner.
Dr. Jill Biden & Amb. Meg Whitman with Hello Tractor team members, our Top performing male borrower & female PAYG customers and the Climate Justice awardee
Top performing female PAYG customer shares her testimony
The Next Phase: LIquidity for Continued Growth
Our next phase of growth is heavily dependent on our ability to crowd in additional liquidity to continue to support the PAYG product. To achieve this, we have partnered with Boston University and Algorand Foundation to introduce a new innovative way for individuals who are excited about impact investing to invest within our rural communities.
We are building an application that allows these individuals to identify potential PAYG borrowers and the farmers that they have pre-booked on their path to becoming tractor owners and assess the quality of their work in a very automated, easy-to-use way before deciding to invest.
We are essentially providing a tech-enabled way to invest in high-impact entrepreneurs in Africa. Investors can invest small amounts of money through the fractional ownership model we are incorporating and track the progress of the tractor owner over time, viewing relevant updates on the work happening on the field and receiving weekly repayments from jobs completed by the tractor owner.
Next-Gen Philanthropy: We believe that this new innovation will be a good way to introduce philanthropy to a new generation of young people who are interested in social good and are also excited about the power of technology. Our goal is to build on the amazing work that Heifer International has done in building this incredible philanthropic brand as we target a younger generation of philanthropists who will take over from the older generation.
Unlocking the Diaspora: This tool will also empower people in the diaspora with an opportunity to invest sustainably back home. Unlike other investment options, they will be able to transparently and digitally monitor where their money is going and receive their RoI without any hassle.