Ghanaian startup FLUID has launched a new platform that helps smallholder farmers access loans, and has already signed one bank on a 12-month contract to provide financing to 25,000 farmers in Northern Ghana.
FLUID was first formed in 2020 when founder Moustapha Seck left his job at the Canadian investment fund Clearco to pursue his goal of helping the poorest Africans access financial services.
“We penetrated the Ghanaian financial industry through research first. In October 2020, we partnered with 29 financial institutions to study the challenges in the rural banking space,” Seck told Disrupt Africa.
“Through this engagement, we developed FLUID SafeSusu, a mobile application to create bank accounts and track savings deposits in rural areas without connectivity.”
Launched in January 2022, SafeSusu piloted with four banks and connected 26,000 bank accounts to its platform. So far it has tracked almost US$200,000 in savings deposits.
FLUID isn’t done there, however. In the middle of last year it created FLUID Sumerian, a product focused on helping smallholder farmers access loans.
“Our research led us to discover that half of Ghanaians work in agriculture, but only 4.6 per cent of loans go to farming. This disparity leaves close to 12.5 million smallholders farmers in Ghana financially excluded,” said Seck.
“While banks use many different technology providers to be closer to the field, only FLUID and AgroCenta, to our knowledge, focus on the huge market of smallholder financing. FLUID stands alone in its focus on mitigating risks for the bank and the farmer.”
The startup has signed up one bank on a 12-month contract to provide financing to 25,000 farmers in Northern Ghana, and in October was selected to take part in MEST Express accelerator’s first-ever cohort focused on sustainability, banking US$5,000 in grant funding and other types of support.
“Building a trust relationship with banks has been a way for us to have pilot customers since launch. Now we want to acquire banks as lifetime customers and become the industry standard tech provider in farmer financing,” Seck said.
“We charge banks to use our technology. Our top goal now is to reach profitability. But gaining trust in the banking space takes time. This makes us focus intensely on customer satisfaction and constantly studying our customers to create value and organic growth.”