Amana Market

Financial Solutions to Social Problems

In my short time at CoAmana, I have come to realize that a common theme is unlearning and relearning. Anybody from a financial background reading this will understand how hard it is to let go of all the rules, expectations and viewpoints that have come to be a crucial part of us.

Nigerian Market

Before joining CoAmana I had never had the experience of working with farmers and at first it felt like I had been dropped in an ocean and my choices were sink or swim. We have had to constantly realign our processes in order to address the needs of the farmers and traders to ensure that our practices are more impact than profit driven.

It is common knowledge in the agriculture space that one of the major problems faced by farmers in sub Saharan Africa is having access to ready buyers for their produce and at reasonable prices. On the other hand, traders within the markets have ready buyers but oftentimes they do not have the required capital to source for products directly from farmers.

How did we address this problem? We stepped in and served as market links through Amana Market, for registered traders within our partner Market Clusters. We provide them with what we call “working capital” to enable them to get these products to trade with. The major condition for accessing “working capital” is that these traders have to source products directly from farmers.

Over time, this model has allowed traders and farmers to expand their businesses with confidence. We monitor each party’s performance over time and increase their working capital limits in order to encourage them. With this model, we have impacted thousands of businesses and built trust across different clusters in 2 countries. We have seen sales groups go from transacting in thousands to transacting in millions. Despite all the successes we have had with the current model, we have come to realize that it is not foolproof as we have had to put in place several mechanisms to ensure it works and till date, as we have continued to expand, we are constantly having to learn and adapt our processes. 

Most of the challenges we (CoAmana, farmers and traders) have faced so far, have stemmed from the political, social, environmental and economic factors; Inflation rates affecting prices and traders’ abilities to meet up, volume and quality of farmers’ produce threatened by drought/ climate change, just to mention a few.

Stay tuned as we will give more insight to these challenges and how we have been able to navigate these challenges in our next issue.

Trust: Because We Kept Showing Up

Even though Halima was not present for the CSA day in Abuja in 2021, she told me how excited she was about the success of the event and how she hoped to attend one in the future. When describing the event, she said, “We are happy that our company is growing and we trust that it will be better for us all.”

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I Can See a Future…

There are very few joys in life that surpass coming face to face with people that have been impacted by your work, especially if most of your work revolves around a computer screen.

As a result of the partnerships we have built over the years, Amana Market has undertaken various projects that have resulted in high engagements with female farmers and traders. During these projects one major obstacle we have faced is how much more expensive it is to onboard women than it is for men. However the major upside is that getting the buy-in of one woman within a community has widespread impact.

Last month, as part of a series of field interviews we encountered Amina Salmanu, a farmer from Bunkure in Kano State Nigeria. Amina was such a joy to speak with, her smile was welcoming and her excitement was infectious. While she spoke about the obstacles she had faced as a farmer within her community, she explained to us that the use of technology had lessened some of her burden. She narrated to us her initial difficulty with adapting to technology and how she had enlisted the help of her son. Amina’s son is in his early twenties and has been helping her farm since completing secondary school, she had hoped that the opportunity for him to attend a university would present itself but the limited income she got from selling her farm produce would not be able to sustain her household as well as provide for her eldest son to attend a university.
One attending one of our training sessions hosted by our network officer in Kano, Amina saw the potential value she and her family could gain if she was able to learn how to use Amana Market to sell her goods. She tried her best to follow during the training but she admitted that several things went over her head. At the end of the session she waited patiently for a chance to talk to the network officer so she could ask if she could bring her son to the network officer at a later date for her to explain the process to her son because she believed that her son would be in a better position to understand everything that was said during the training.
About a week later, during her trip to the market to sell off her goods, Amina brought her son to our demo location in Danwanu market to speak to the Network officer. Much to Amina’s delight, her son was able to fully understand the process of selling on Amana Market and was even able to list her sesame seed on the platform for sale and thus began Amina’s journey with Amana Market.

In the 3 months since Amina began using Amana Market, she found 3 regular buyers for her sesame seeds and her son is now an Amana Market Supply Agent helping several farmers within their community sell on Amana Market. 
At the end of her interview she told us that she was beginning to hope again and she should see a future where her children would not be limited and had a chance to attend a university.

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