At Juhudi Kilimo we have a history of being adventurous and innovative. In 2013 we decided to create Juhudi Labs, an entity dedicated to discovering, testing and scaling new financial and agricultural products, services and processes. In Juhudi Labs we explore future ideas to improve our business. We also provide support to companies serving Kenya’s rural smallholder farmers. Juhudi Labs currently comprises four programs: the Financial Product Program, the Clean Energy Program, the Startup Residency Program, and the Field Research Program.
The underlying assumption of our Juhudi Labs programs is that the products and services they develop are relevant and beneficial to smallholder farmers, helping farming businesses grow and creating a positive impact in farmers’ lives and communities.
Financial Product Program
The Financial Product Program was established to meet smallholder farmers’ demand for affordable new financial products and services, such as insurance to complement asset-based loans, or flexible credit solutions.
As part of the program, we are designing and testing new loan products, piloting loans that do not require co-guarantorship, developing more detailed and effective credit appraisal and risk management tools, and exploring innovative financial products, such as weather-based index insurance. We aim to integrate successful new products and solutions into our core portfolio, making them widely available to our growing client base.
Clean Energy Program
The Clean Energy Program began as a pilot project to supply solar lights to our farmer clients on attractive credit terms, often as supplementary “top-ups” to their main asset loans from Juhudi. Observing the appetite for clean energy products amongst our clients, we have intensified our efforts by forming a clean energy lending partnership with Micro Energy Credits (MEC), a Gold Standard Certified social enterprise.
Under the partnership, we are ramping up the provision of high-performing solar lamps, cookstoves and biogas digesters through credit financing and top-up loans to rural farmers. Carbon credits are measured using MEC’s Tracker software and revenues from their sale will be redirected into the program, to help us expand the product range and reach more farmers.
Startup Residency Program
The Startup Residency Program emerged from our desire to foster and support innovation in agriculture. Kenyan smallholder farmers often lack information about commodity prices and market trends, have poor access to markets, must deal with inefficient supply chains and low quality inputs, and suffer from increasing negative effects of climate change.
Acknowledging that we cannot not work directly on all of these challenges, we have chosen to support local entrepreneurs who are tackling them through their own agribusiness products and services. Collaborating with other social enterprises, we encourage growth in the agribusiness value chain and help create a more secure and supportive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation by businesses who, like us, are dedicated to serving Kenya’s smallholder farmers.
Field Research Program
The Field Research Program was set up so we could work with research and policy institutions to study and test poverty alleviation methods. Under this program, we facilitate and support rigorous, evidence-based field studies conducted with our rural farmer client base. We are especially interested in agricultural and financial research themes, as well as social impact measurement.
Past and current research projects include studies on effective methods for training rural farmers, farm yield and productivity measurements, and a study on how SMS communication affects the repayment and saving behaviour of borrowers.
We use a slightly different selection approach for Field Research Program partners, and encourage you to contact us directly if your institution is interested in becoming one.
Juhudi Labs seeks applications from startups, small/medium enterprises and companies that:
- are legally licensed to do business in Kenya
- operate in the agriculture sector, serving rural smallholder farmers or providing business-to-business services along the agriculture value chain
- are introducing new or proven financial products/services for smallholder farmers or agribusinesses
- are introducing new or proven clean energy products/services for smallholder farmers or agribusinesses
- are introducing new or proven agricultural products/services for smallholder farmers or agribusinesses
We evaluate applications based on the following sets of criteria:
Product and business overview: the applicant’s product or service is clearly described, and the business overview addresses key issues, such as: market dynamics, competitivity, customer base, prototyping, marketing, distribution, customer service, scalability and intellectual property.
Financial overview: the applicant has provided understandable and adequate current or projected financial statements; the applicant’s revenue model is viable and sustainable; the applicant’s understanding of product development and marketing costs is realistic.
Fit with Juhudi Kilimo: the applicant’s product or service is complementary to Juhudi’s business and field operations; the applicant makes use of or strengthens Juhudi’s core competencies; partnering with the applicant company offers clear, long-term benefit to Juhudi.
If you would like to submit an application to Juhudi Labs, please fill in our online form. Kindly note that we will only respond to you if your application has been short-listed or if we require further information from you.
What is Juhudi Kilimo and what do you do?
Juhudi Kilimo is a social enterprise that provides asset financing and technical assistance to smallholder farmers and small-to-medium agribusinesses throughout Kenya. Juhudi operates exclusively in rural areas, giving smallholder farmers access to the tools they need to scale up and succeed. Through our services, we help our clients make their farms productive and sustainable, increasing their farming income and improving the well-being of their families.
Since 2009, Juhudi Kilimo has provided KES 2 Billion worth of fincancing to 40,000 Kenyan farmers. We currently have 20,000 clients spread across 20 rural branches and served by our team of 140 employees.
In recognition of its efforts, Juhudi Kilimo received the Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the World Economic Forum in 2011, and was acknowledged in CIO Magazine’s Top 100 list of technology innovations in 2013. Juhudi Kilimo also became the first African B Corporation in 2013.
We want to work with startups and companies that have smallholder farmers as their customers. We are also interested in startups and companies whose customers are other organizations in the agriculture value chain, such as feed or fertilizer companies, input suppliers, agricultural equipment manufacturers, extension service providers and so on. At its core, a Juhudi Labs company should serve the Kenyan smallholder farmer, whether directly or indirectly.
Yes! We are interested in all sorts of products and services that are or can be helpful for farmers and agribusinesses, for example:
- high-yield livestock breeds
- improved seed varieties
- farming inputs
- farming machinery
- water tanks and irrigation units
- renewable energy solutions
- farm transportation
- technical assistance and extension services
- weather information services
- business and financial literacy services for farmers
- market access solutions
- information and productivity managament services
- affordable credit solutions
- farming insurance products
- distribution and supply chain services
- solutions that improve agricultural process efficiency and productivity
If you think your product or service is right for farmers and/or other agriculture sector organizations, tell us about it!
How mature does my business have to be for entry to Juhudi Labs?
The size or maturity of the business is not a limiting factor for Juhudi Labs; we are willing to consider your business, whether it is only at the idea/prototype stage or is already profitable and growing. What is important to us is that we are able to work with you to develop a realistic, mutually beneficial partnership that will prove your startup’s potential or will help your company achieve a desired level of growth and scale. This means we will evaluate your application based on your company’s fit with Juhudi Kilimo and its future potential, rather than its current state.
Juhudi labs partner companies can be given access to our farmer client base for product development, usability testing and market research. Through Juhudi Kilimo’s network of branches, the companies can also reach a pre-selected market of 20,000 smallholder farmers to promote and sell their products or services.
Juhudi Labs may also help resident companies grow and reach scale by investing directly in them or helping them to raise investor or donor funding. The exact format and scale of support will be assessed and determined at various stages during the residency.
To identify high-potential startups for our residency program in 2014, we are partnering with Village Capital on the Innovations in Agriculture accelerator program. The 3-month accelerator provides training and mentorship to innovative agriculture companies in Kenya. At the end of the program, Juhudi Kilimo will make an investment of USD 50,000 in the two winning companies.
Yes, we created the Field Research Program as a way to work with research-focused organizations, such as governmental and non-governmental research bodies, universities and academic institutions, or policy institutes and think tanks. The research projects developed in this program use academic methods, such as randomized control trials, to ensure the rigour and validity of findings and recommendations. Thematically, we focus on Juhudi Kilimo’s core business and customers – financial services and rural smallholder farmers – to make research outcomes relevant and practicable.
Because we have somewhat different needs and requirements for this program, potential field research partners may either apply through the general application form, or contact Juhudi Labs directly.