Leveraging On Digital Community Entrepreneur (DCE) Model To Advance Digital Financial Inclusion, Clean Energy and Extension Services to Rural Smallholder Farmers in Uganda

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has supported MobiPay AgroSys Limited to support the digitization of the Maize and Oil Seed Value Chains in Uganda, which directly employs over two (2), million people. Using MobiPay’s Digital Community Entrepreneur (DCE) model, the project’s aim is to use rural youth as agent at Producer Organizations (PO) level to help rural smallholder farmers in having increased visibility through farmer profiling, access to extension services, clean energy/ solar products, mobile literacy, access and use digital financial services and improving their livelihoods but attaining entrepreneurial skills and financial sustainability.

MobiPay’s Digital Community Entrepreneur (DCE) Model: DCEs acts as role models who train and support their fellow farmers in the use of new digital solutions, opportunities of e-extension services, clean energy to unlock the barriers around DFS usage and adoption among smallholder farmers

Since 2016, MobiPay has exerted itself to improve the livelihood of Producer Organizations/ Farmer Cooperatives and smallholder farmers by understanding their pain points, opportunities and providing appropriate ICT platforms and tools for improved farmer visibility and access to digital financial services and products. This project, particularly the implementation of MobiPay’s innovative Digital Community Entrepreneur (DCE) model aims to get a step closer to providing a comprehensive package of services to over 200,000 smallholder farmers growing maize and sunflower in rural areas of the Busoga and Lango regions in Uganda respectively.

The MobiPay-Producer Organization partnership aims at supporting the over 56 Producer Organizations/ Farmer Cooperatives including Ngetta Tropical Holdings (NTH) and Nyekorac Community Farmer’s Cooperative (Lango region), Buwenge Farmer’s Cooperative and SACCO (Jinja district) and Bugiri Agribusiness Development Association (BAIDA) (Bugiri district) with the technical expertise and building strong DCEs or agents for providing relevant financial services, extension advisory services, solar products and financial literacy to the local community in a sustainable manner. This will also support in understanding the PO’s needs in terms of digital payments and assisting in promoting and sustaining bulk payments as an alternative for cash-based payments along the maize and Oil seed value chain in Uganda.

Maize Value Chain DCE Group Photo

Eric Nana Kwabena Agyei, MD for MobiPay AgroSys Limited, was at the training for the DCEs, explaining: “The necessity of advancing financial inclusion and relevant extension services to improve the livelihoods of rural smallholder farmers is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and very significant in our context- Uganda, this is why this project is important. The combination of both organizations’ [MobiPay and PO’s] vast experiences with smallholder farmers will continue to strengthen our relations [in terms of providing value-added services] for smallholder farmers living in the rural areas. Most importantly, the engagement of rural youth as agents and entrepreneurs will help in part deal with the issues of youth unemployment, but making them realize the important roles they can play in the agricultural value chain and be financially stable.

Eric Nana Kwabena Agyei (MobiPay- MD) Speaking at DCE Training

As a way of gaining a better understanding of the project, MobiPay and UNCDF organized a joint visit and training for the recruited DCEs, partners including PO’s management staff and members, local leaders, Solar product providers- Aptech and Village power in Lira and Jinja/ Iganga. The joint visit included a visit to the Producer Organizations areas of operation where the UNCDF’s Digital Financial Services (DFS) Value Chain Expert, Stephen Waiswa, Emmanuel Kodwo Mensah (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer-MobiPay) and Jimmy Okello (Field Officer-MobiPayinteracted with the PO’s management staff and members for better understanding of their activities and how best UNCDF and MobiPay can provide the appropriate support to make this project successful. Mr. Waiswa said, “Our visit here is to help us better understand what you’re doing as partners, challenges and opportunities, but to also help chart and adopt best practices in helping to unlock the potential of digitizing the maize and value chains leveraging on the DCEs”.

Furthermore, the training brought together over 150 participants comprising 56 DCEs. The training was organized with a special focus on the project overview: goals and objectives, the roles of Digital Community Entrepreneurs (DCE) and partners including UNCDF, Producer Organizations, Aptech and Village Power as well as the DCE model as an innovative model to build strong entrepreneurial skills, revenue streams and ensure financial sustainability. Also, the participatory and all-inclusive training sessions gave the participants especially, the DCEs opportunity to learn and ask relevant questions about their roles, community entry, awareness creation, farmer sensitizations and how to stay relevant after the project period.

Session of DCEs in Training

The project is one of the many commitments UNCDF’s MMP4 programme has established in the last mile of Uganda’s agricultural value chains. Accordingly, within the scope of this project, MM4P is supporting MobiPay and its partners specifically to accelerate their mandated activities related to the development & rollout for Digital Community Entrepreneurs (DCE) model in deep rural areas in Busoga and Lango regions. Through this approach, MobiPay is committed to implementing the innovative DCE model to deliver digital services to the bottom of the pyramid at any given time in close collaboration with Project objective, expected results and link with MM4P country strategy.