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The Story behind Africa’s Uber for Tractors

Jehiel Oliver recalls how he started a business on the Hello Tractor platform where farmers could make up to $30,000 in bookings a year. When a young Oliver left banking and started doing consulting work, “mostly still in finance”, he looked at deal structuring for funds investing across the Global South which then led him to agriculture. Hello Tractor, a Kenya-based smartphone app that connects small-scale farmers with nearby tractor owners, was built on understanding how much access smallholder farmers have to the basic needs of farming. According to The Economist, in sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of crops are ploughed by hand, which in turn impacts the productivity of farmers and eventual crop yield. This is why over 220 million farmers in Africa live on less than $2 a day. Oliver reiterates that smallholder farmers don’t have the machinery they need to fully cultivate occupied land. Tractors and farm equipment are expensive, and financing is virtually non-existent.