🎙️ MyFugo CEO Allan Tollo on Empowering Rural Dairy Farmers in Kenya
Funding dairy farmers to live with dignity and create a sustainable livelihood
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Happy Sunday! And welcome to another episode of the Doing Well by Doing Good podcast 😀 . It’s been a while so this welcome is particularly special and I’m quite excited to share this episode with you!
This time we return to our typical programming with Allan Tollo, the CEO of — a company focused on helping farmers in Kenya create a livelihood for their families through financial empowerment. In short — they focus on making a profit for the very clear purpose to help rural dairy farmers in Kenya, a group that has largely been ignored by many markets and who face a significant barrier to financial inclusion.
As usual you can check out the full episode below, but we’ve take the time to break it down a bit below so read through the summary and click to the parts you’re interested in. While in the past we’ve take the time to give you full transcripts of each episode, we realized that summaries were more effective. So like last time, we’ve done the same. Hope you enjoy 😀
[0:57] MyFugo’s Mission and Starting Journey
- MyFugo is named after the Swahili word “mifugo” meaning “livestock”.
- MyFugo helps rural farmers in Kenya via microloans and IoT technology (e.g. cow collars) to create a sustainable livelihood and improve financial inclusion within the economy.
- Allan tried to create his own dairy farm when between jobs as an IT professional and MyFugo was born from that lived experience and confirmation with dairy farmers in the market.
- MyFugo’s MVP was an app to track dairy production of cows, but customers weren’t willing to pay. They needed to finance cows and improve the efficiency of the cows so MyFugo now provides cow collars and micro-loans to help the farmers end-to-end.
[7:37] What challenges did MyFugo have to overcome to get to where it is?
- Seed financing is notoriously difficult in Africa because there is little data to validate whether the business works, so investors consider it a black box.
- MyFugo had to bootstrap and to find a great team aligned with the mission but also willing to take a lower-than-market pay.
[13:12] What is MyFugo’s mission and culture?
- MyFugo’s mission is to leverage technology to address the first 3 key UN SDG goals focused on poverty, hunger, and well-being of all humans.
- MyFugo’s culture is to maintain a customer-centric mindset and to approach problems by maintaining that nothing is impossible.
- This mission and culture has enabled MyFugo to achieve high customer retention (> 90%) and develop partnerships with other companies that add value to their customers.
[20:25] What is MyFugo’s business model to become profitable?
- MyFugo makes money via standard fees and interest revenue on their daily micro-loans from their farmers, and they use group dynamics to reduce the risk via co-guaranteeing from other members.
- MyFugo also has a standard one-time service fee for new dairy farmers who apply to assess the condition of the farm, the experience of the farmer, and gauge the risk of the insured.
- MyFugo offers loans for a number of different types of cows and leverages group knowledge from all farmers to reduce the overall loan risk (e.g. how to detail with East Coast Fever in cows).
[28:27] What global challenge will MyFugo have helped solve in 10 years?
- MyFugo hopes to enable small holder farmers to live with dignity, reduce poverty among this population and to empower economic livelihood and independence.
- Specific Example: MyFugo has helped a group of women called “No Sex for Fish” who previously had to trade sexual favors to feed their families, but now with MyFugo have been empowered to be economically independent.
[30:32] Why build a for-profit entity vs. a non-profit?
- Non-profits are funded by donors but are only short term solutions and don’t last for more than a few years. For profits can build a more sustainable long-term solution through growth and a good incentive structure.
- Previous non-profit attempts in the dairy farming market have largely been unsuccessful because 50% of cows would die since the farmer isn’t incentivized to keep it alive (non-profits act like one-time handouts).
- MyFugo is focused on “dollars and cents making sense” — that is, attaching a monetary outcome to owning the cow, thus increasing the success rate and sustainability of creating livelihoods for farmers.
[35:32] How do you avoid conflicts between shareholder value and mission?
- Most important is to align your mission with the correct investor who have patient capital so they can weather the storm.
- Also aligning social impact KPIs with the financial KPIs is key. For MyFugo that is increasing the overall production of milk with the revenue for the business.
Advice for the Listeners
[39:53] Allan’s advice for startup founders and employees
- Carpe diem. It’s never too early to start. You will never be ready for what comes so start today so you start to make progress.
- The value of the product lies with your customers so don’t wait for your product to be perfect, get it out there ASAP to gather customer feedback.
- In order of importance goes: 1) employees, 2) customers, and 3) shareholders. Companies are made up of their people and are critical to its success so take care of them.
Wishing you all a Sunday as fun as this guy’s and an amazing week ahead 😀
If you have any feedback reach out via email or tweet us at @dwdgsf.
Until next time
Originally published at https://dwdg.substack.com on September 20, 2021.