myAgro Farms

aka myAgro   |   New York, NY   |  www.myagro.org

Mission

Our mission is to help small-scale farmers in West Africa move out of poverty by earning sustainable livelihoods from their farms. We believe the solution lies in giving families the ability to invest their own resources in appropriate fertilizer, seed and modern agricultural techniques so they can enjoy increased harvests and income every year.

myAgro provides increased financial access to family farms by giving local farmers the ability to pay for the tools and supplies they need on savings layaway, via a mobile money service that is accessible from even the most hard-to-reach villages. This innovation adapts an old concept – layaway plans – to a new context – rural farmers living on less than $2 a day – and it uses a familiar technology – the mobile phone – that is easy, convenient and trusted. We also provide our farmers with agricultural experts to accompany them during planting so they can gain the most benefit possible from their investment, and with direct market access to purchasers so they can get the most income from their harvests.

Our model is an extremely efficient way of addressing rural poverty and food insecurity. Our vision is to move a million small-scale farmers beyond subsistence farming and out of poverty by 2025 by scaling our programs in West Africa and by creating a model that other distribution networks around the world can integrate into their own program offerings.

Ruling year info

2013

Founder and CEO

Anushka Ratnayake

Main address

130 7th Avenue #160

New York, NY 10011 USA

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EIN

45-5267449

NTEE code info

Agricultural Programs (K20)

International Development, Relief Services (Q30)

International Agricultural Development (Q31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

MyAgro Farmer Membership

Farmers who enroll with myAgro gain:
(1) Access to fertilizer and seed packages that they can buy on layaway, without incurring debt
(2) Trainings in agricultural techniques
(3) Market access to premium buyers
(4) Access to loans for appropriate farm equipment and machinery.

Farmers enroll with myAgro at harvest time, plan how many hectares they want to plant the following season (~9 months away), and open a savings-layaway account to save up to buy enough fertilizer and seed to meet those goals. With our mobile money platform, farmers in remote villages who generally had no access to banking services can then add money to their account at any time of the day or night simply by sending an SMS message from any mobile phone. They can also keep track of how much they have left to save to plant their fields and see their total account balance via their phones as well.

Our mobile platform is extremely easy-to use and trusted as it is designed to mirror an existing technology that is already familiar to our farmers: pre-paid cell phone cards. The majority of mobile users in West Africa do not have a phone plan; rather, they buy scratch cards with secret codes from their cell phone provider that add a cash value to their phone’s account once those codes are texted in. In exactly the same way, myAgro clients can buy cards in a range of cash values (from $1 up to $20) and then add that money to their layaway account simply by sending a text message. This gives them the capacity to save up to invest in their fields in small, achievable increments.

Then at planting time, MyAgro buys certified seed and fertilizer in bulk and delivers each farmer their order, directly to their village. This is a unique service as most fertilizer distributors only serve regional hubs. In addition, as a myAgro client, farmers also receive technical agricultural trainings that help them reduce crop loss and increased market access through relationships we open up with purchasers. Our field agents, all of whom are highly-skilled agricultural experts, meet with farmers weekly during the year to help them meet their savings goals. During the planting season they provide close field follow-up, supervision and technical advice. We maintain a 1:100 agent to farmer ratio to ensure all of our farmers use their inputs properly and maximize their yields.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

myAgro's North Star is to help 1 million smallholder farmers to increase their income by $1.50 per day by 2025 to move above the poverty line and into the middle class.

Our specific targets are for our farmers to increase their harvests by 175% and their income by over 200% on average, to a point where their family is earning above $1,000 per year. This would put them into the middle income bracket in Mali.

myAgro employs a multi-pronged strategic approach to boost farmer income:

1. Savings Layaway: Farmers register with myAgro at harvest time and plan how much money they need for the following season 6-9 months away. We then provide them with financial access to a layaway account so they can make flexible payments towards their planting goals throughout the year, whenever it is convenient and whenever they have money they want to invest in their farms.

2. SMS Platform:
Farmers access their layaway account via their mobile phone so they can add money to their account or see their balance at any time of the day or night, from the most remote of villages. To add money to their account, farmers buy voucher cards in varying amounts that contain a scratch code they text in to myAgro. These cards are familiar technology as most people in West Africa use a similar system to add talk-time credit to their cellphones. Our farmers can purchase myAgro cards from their local village boutique as well as from neighborhood farmers we have selected to act as card vendors.

3. Access to Quality Seed and Fertilizer:
The majority of villages we work with are far from urban centers and therefore a recurring problem faced by farmers is that the seed and fertilizer that make it to local markets are not quality-controlled. myAgro delivers our farmer's packages directly to their villages rather than making them travel to regional centers, we buy quality fertilizer in bulk, and we check and treat all of our seeds before distribution.

4. Modern Agricultural Trainings:
At planting time myAgro delivers inputs to our farmers and assigns agricultural agents to each village we work with to train farmers on how to plant, weed, harvest and store their produce for longer. We maintain an extremely high specialist to farmer ratio so that each of our farmers gets expert technical advice and gains the biggest harvests possible from their investment in quality seeds and fertilizer.

5. Using Local Networks:
We use local representatives to enroll farmers and encourage them to use their savings layaway account: local boutique owners and farmer vendor assistants (roaming sales agent) who sell our scratch cards earn a 1.5% commission, and we also select a local female and male farmer representative to help mobilize others in their village.

6. Improved Market Access:
myAgro negotiates contracts with medium and large scale buyers in the capital to help farmers earn a higher-than market price for their harvests.

myAgro benefits from a number of capabilities that give us an advantage:

There is a strong savings culture in both Mali and Senegal, but currently very few people have access to formal savings services (only 4% in Mali and Senegal). Instead they are forced to save at home or with acquaintances, which can be risky. For example, approximately 12% of the population in Mali currently use community-based savings mechanisms, which represents a large potential market for our services.

Our program is designed to be easily-scalable as our donation cost-per-farmer goes down as we increase enrollment, and because our staffing is based on a village-team model that we can replicable as we expand to more villages.

We have strong, experienced leadership that guides our expansion: Anushka Ratnayake, our founder, was previously at Kiva where she created the Fellows Program. Most recently, she served as the Director of Core Programs and Innovation with One Acre Fund where she provided microcredit for small-scale farmers in East Africa. Our Board of Directors and official Advisors include representatives from Kiva, Grameen, One Acre Fund, Net Impact, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and Syngenta Foundation.

We have a highly-skilled local and expat team that ensures the quality of our services: we already employ over 250 full-time staff, the majority of whom are Malian and Senegalese citizens with university degrees and significant prior work experience. We also employ a PhD in agriculture to ensure the quality of our farming trainings, and local marketing staff to help us conduct outreach in rural villages.

Finally, we have gained early recognition for our work, including from the Gates Foundation, Echoing Green Foundation, Rainer Arnold Fellowship, and PopTech. As of 2016, myAgro has been cited by the World Bank's CGAP as a model for designing digital financial solutions for smallholder farmers.

Farmers participating in our program consistently have higher crop yields, which correspond to increased family income. In our pilot, farmers participating in our program earned an additional income of $234 and grew a harvest that was 80% bigger than comparable farms.

These results are extremely significant for the families who participate in our program as the average annual GDP per capita in Mali is $1,100 and in Senegal is $2,100. But we do not mean to stop there. Our long-term goal is to continue this positive trajectory and increase average farm income by over $1000 a year so that our farmers move entirely out of poverty and into middle-income. This projection is based on our calculations for how much additional income families can earn by planting more of their lands with high quality seed and fertilizer: as families earn the ability and decide to plant more of their hectares with myAgro, their income will rise even more.

We are also consistently expanding our impact each year in terms of the number of farmers who plant with us and the amount of money they save to invest in their fields. Our average farmers increased their savings by 27% in their second year with us, which means they could invest more in their fields and see even better results. In addition, our growth in enrollment has been staggering:

• In 2012, our pilot year, we worked with 340 farmers in Mali;
• In 2013, 1,600 farmers joined (370% increase), and we expanded from Mali to our second location, Senegal;
• In 2014, 5,100 farmers enrolled in Mali and Senegal (219% increase)

As of 2016, we reached a total of 17,051 farmers in both Mali and Senegal. In 2017, we expect to reach 30,000 farmers.

Each year between 70% and 80% of our farmers reach their entire savings goals, which is a high completion rate. In addition, even farmers who do not reach the entirety of their goal still plant with us but over a smaller area. (For example, if a farmer intends to save enough to cover 2 hectares but falls slightly short, they can still plant 1.75 hectares with myAgro seeds and fertilizer.)

We measure our impact through a rigorous M&E process after each harvest. Specifically, our agricultural agents measure the crops grown in a sample area (a box measuring 8m x 5m) from a random selection of myAgro fields and compare that weight to that of crops grown in a sample area of the same size from control fields. We also conduct consumption surveys and administer questionnaires on savings practices twice a year with a random selection of myAgro farmers to gain insights about their families' living standards. In both these evaluation processes we use newly enrolled farmers in villages where we have yet to start work as our control, as they have all the same characteristics as our current farmers but have yet to benefit from our services and are far enough away geographically that there are no spillover effects.

Financials

myAgro Farms
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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myAgro Farms

Board of directors
as of 2/25/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Evan Marwell

EducationSuperHighway

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 01/26/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Decline to state
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data