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Sadiki’s 5,000 Magunia: A Story of Data, Information and Growth

From Giakanga to King’ong’o, Sadiki’s Ubora maize flour is widely regarded as the best quality maize flour in the Nyeri region of Kenya. Restaurants, households and even traders contact Sadiki on an almost daily basis to buy some Ubora flour. There is a popular saying that the best ugali in Nyugali is made with Ubora flour. 

Sadiki has owned the same shop in Gitathini with her sisters for the last 15 years. 

Sadiki has bought maize from the same farmers and used the same processing machine for the last 15 years. She has built a loyal customer base, and her suppliers know exactly what Sadiki needs when she needs it. The secret to Sadiki’s success is simple: consistency. The same people, the same product, at the same time for 15 years.

While consistency has helped Sadiki grow her business in the last 10 years, her loyalty and circle of supply and production has created a massive barrier to scaling her business. It is common knowledge that there is demand for Ubora flour in other regions of Kenya, and while travelers and other businesses have continually told Sadiki that she should sell her flour to more regions and make more money, Sadiki has consistently refused these offers because she is afraid of the impact that growth will have on her business.

Sadiki operates her business with knowledge. Sadiki knows the 28 farmers who supply her a total of 950 magunia of maize every three months. She knows her processing plant manager and her farmers know the kind of maize Sadiki can buy. 950 magunia is always enough to meet the demands of all her buyers, and so far, her business has thrived on the originality and quality of her flour. That is what Ubora flour is; quality because Sadiki knows. 

Expanding her business provides too many unknowns for Sadiki. She does not know where most of the buyers are. She does not know how much it will cost to transport her flour to other regions. She does not know the prevailing prices in other markets. These are just the unknowns in selling. What about the increased demand? Where will she find farmers that will give her the quality of maize she needs to keep the Ubora brand? What about processing? How much will she have to pay these new farmers? What happens when the farmers don’t supply enough? 

The answer to Sadiki’s questions lies in the data provided by market activities. Around Nyeri and Ihururu, over 1,500 farmers produce maize at the quality that Sadiki needs; they transact on a weekly to monthly basis and have built systems that allow them to supply over 5,000 magunia of maize to businesses across the country. Buyers in Nakaru will pay over 1.5 times more for flour of the Ubora quality because most of the buyers are retailers and businesses. This information is generally simply processed by monitoring how markets in Nakaru operate. However, with this data, there is no simple way of providing Sadiki and the thousands of traders like her with this information. This is where we come in.

If we can curate and manage this data, we can build a system where business owners like Sadiki can grow from 950 magunia to 5,000 magunia because they have accurate data. Investors can see the potential for Ubora’s growth and the information from our indegenous businesses can grow the potential of our continent. 

We know that Sadiki’s story is still being written. We want to join her to write the next chapter.

Finding Allies – Issue 1: Unlearning

Welcome to the ‘finding allies’ section of our renewed newsletter ‘Tuamke’, where we take you on a journey with us through our process of unlearning and relearning. We will share monthly articles, videos, and audios addressing how development, technology and business can be more inclusive. 

CoAmana has been working for 4 years to understand the best ways to solve market inefficiencies for low income and rural populations across Africa. Before then, many members of our team worked in academia, communications, tech, finance, development consultation and project management across sub-saharan Africa. As the farmers would say, we are ‘book people’, a term they often use to classify educated English speaking people who have been made impractical and hubristic by their dependency on using external over refined or complex knowledge.

Tanzania, MandaA – 25 APRIL 2013: Woman going to work with the hoe in field

However, having spent years in the field, our entire management team have had to go through a process of unlearning and dropping common ‘educated’ assumptions in favour of listening and serving our customer base. We started out with “problems -> solutions -> people”, but our experience in the field has taught us to be more focused on “people -> problem -> solution” and we would like you to join us as we share the stories and experiences that have led us to where we are now.  

We invite you to follow us as we explore opportunities for sustained impact by revisiting well known assumptions from the perspective of the people we aim to impact. In a world where ‘book people’ are anchored in the metaverse, blockchain, RCTs, satellites tracking weather patterns, big data, machine learning, digital information and NFTs. How do we ensure that we forge relationships with people in such a way that it ensures that they are carried along by forming a common ground for change? How do we see the communities we work with as allies and vice versa? 

Each issue of our newsletter will focus on unpacking a single learning. Our next issue will focus on ancient wisdom found only within local market systems and how it has worked for people and the environment. You will hear from experts that have been in this space and not just the expert “book people”, but people who know their communities and these age-old systems more than we do. People who understand what it takes to create indigenous change.

The Start of Something New

Dear readers,

Since the last time you heard from us, so much has happened; we have grown, we have learnt, our goals are much closer and we are excited to share it all with you as you join us on our journey. Join us as we start something new.

Sometimes we reminisce on how far we have come from our tiny office space in Abuja  to where we are now. We now have a staff of over 30 across Nigeria and Kenya.

We have had to unlearn and learn as we pursued our dream. The experience we gained along the way has shaped us into a formidable African company that is capable of solving the problems within our purview. 

In the last 4 years we have dedicated ourselves to building our product; Amana Market and so far we have over 150,000 farmers transacting, over 1,200 farmers with insurance in 2020 and over 10,000 access financial services in 2021.

Recently, we sat down with one of our active agents in Kaduna, Titilayo to hear what she had to say regarding her experience using Amana Market so far; “They told us they will link us to the farmers to cover the price gap from what we get in the market”… “I use that platform and they will give you what you want” … “I have bought and I have sold to some people. I added a little amount on each bag so it improved my income too”. Feedback such as these validate our experience so far and we believe that as you join us in our journey forward, you too will share in our victories.

We invite you to join us as we take the next step into achieving a collective goal for Africa and the world.

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