INNOVATION

THE UBER FOR TRACTORS

For small-scale farmers in Nigeria, especially in the northern region, getting tractors to use on their farmlands to boost the yield has always been difficult.

Many of them can’t afford to buy one due to the high capital cost, while the country’s federal government which is the major supplier of tractors is not able to meet more than four per cent of their requirements.

In 2014, the social enterprise Hello Tractor set out to address the issue. “The smart tractor is a two-wheeled vehicle with GPS antenna that allows us to track its usage and telematics, and which collects and transfers data in areas without internet,” says company founder Jehiel Oliver.

Jehiel Oliver’s story is not a conventional one. Rising through the ranks to become an accomplished financial analyst, he was nevertheless captivated by the desire to do more meaningful work, eventually switching to microfinancing and consulting to help marginalized communities around the world. Only after spending some time in Afghanistan and South-East Asia, he realized that even microlending institutions avoid people who need their support the most — farmers. Thus an idea for providing an easy access to tractors was born.

Together with a co-founder, Van Jones, Jehiel developed Smart Tractor, an affordable machine with a cloud connectivity. They called themselves Hello Tractor

Oliver’s social enterprise is improving food and income security by building a network of “Smart Tractor” owners, enabling small-scale farmers to request and pay for tractor services via SMS and mobile money, as a just-in-time service.

Hello Tractor coordinates low-cost financing for purchase of a Smart Tractor. and Since its launch in 2014, farmers have seen yields rise by over 200 percent

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