AGRICULTURAL fintech marketplace, HelloChoice, recently concluded a 25% equity deal with Standard Bank. The platform, created in 2018, links farmers and food producers directly with potential buyers.
“Standard Bank’s equity purchase in HelloChoice is part of the bank’s commitment to building agri-entrepreneurship and food security in the country,” said Wendy Pienaar, Head of Ecosystems, Standard Bank.
Grant Jacobs, CEO, and co-founder of HelloChoice said the trading platform builds market efficiency and promotes economic prosperity by digitising the wholesale trade and distribution of agricultural produce.
In its first 32 months, 2,000 registered buyers and sellers joined the trading platform. The platform has reduced inefficiencies and supply chains costs and has facilitated over R100 million worth of trade in its first 30 months.
For Graeme Jarvie, entrepreneurial farmer, and co-founder of HelloChoice, farmers are always under pressure when it comes to margins. “The platform protects the value of the produce being supplied to benefit both farmers and buyers – better market access and prices for farmers, while delivering quicker product access and lower prices for buyers,” he said.
He added that this efficiency can translate into increased income for the farmers and producers. “A small increase in net price, like R3 for a pocket of potatoes, can make a significant difference to a farmer’s profit margin and overall sustainability,” says Jarvie.
“More commercial and emerging farmers are joining the platform every day, as the word spreads and they start to experience the benefits of connecting directly with wholesalers and retailers across the country through the HelloChoice B2B marketplace,” said Jarvie.
In November 2020, the partnership between Standard Bank and HelloChoice evolved into OneFarm Share, a spin-off platform that uses the HelloChoice marketplace technology to directly address hunger and food security by improving the national coordination and distribution of excess farm produce to registered charities through food distribution partners like Food Forward SA.
In the first seven months 1,000 tons of quality edible food was delivered to those in need, after an initial pilot in the KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State provinces.
OneFarm Share is now operating nationally and on 31 August 2021, had increased the supply and delivery of hunger relief donations to 3 200 tons equating to 12.8 million nutritious meals for vulnerable children and communities.
More than 50% of the produce procured or donated was sourced from 43 emerging farmers, and efficiently distributed to one million beneficiaries through 750 registered beneficiary organisations, The balance of the food contributions came from commercial farmers and food processors.
Farmers can either sell their excess or out-of-spec produce at a reduced price to OneFarm Share or can donate the food and receive a s18A tax certificate.
Pienaar said Standard Bank views the deal as a key stepping stone toward its 2025 ambition of becoming a platform business.
“We are increasingly working in partnerships with other businesses to provide solutions beyond those of traditional financial services through broader ecosystems, using and growing our existing digital solutions such as OneFarm to support our clients’ life, work experiences and unlocking the potential of Africa’s agribusiness,” she said.