Meet GES Delegate: Rachel de Villa
Name: Rachel de Villa, 23
Twitter handle: @14thofJUNE
Country of Origin: Philippines
Organization Name: Cropital
Organization Website: www.cropital.com
Cropital is a crowdfunding platform that connects anyone to help finance our farmers. This is a social enterprise providing farmers access to scalable and sustainable financing. Cropital has created an avenue where anyone can be an agricultural investor and, more than just micro-financing, is promoting “agricultural investments” using an innovative business model that’s pro-farmers. Agricultural Investment is a key element in inclusive growth, reducing poverty, and ensuring food security.
With Cropital, farmers now have access to funding, markets, technology and insurance, and our farm backers are given an opportunity to directly impact a life and at the same time grow their money.
What inspired you to start this organization?
Agriculture is one of the most neglected sectors in our country, and brings about numerous financial and social problems for our farmers. A farmer’s average income is only 50 USD per month, and a majority of them live below the poverty line. Aside from this, local farmers in the Philippines are already getting too old to farm at the average age of 57. This reality of Philippine agriculture is unacceptable. This is what Cropital aims to solve.
What is the next big step you hope to help your organization reach?
We aim for a world where farmers are dignified and empowered and no longer live in debt. We aim to give them the life they have always deserved.
Since our launch last November 2015, we have already gained significant traction that improved the lives of more than 30 farmers. We have established that Cropital is more than just a want … it is now a need.
By next year, Cropital will have on-boarded more than 10 pilot projects, providing jobs and improving lives of more than 1000 farmers.
What has been your biggest obstacle as an entrepreneur?
Prior to founding Cropital, I have no experience in building a startup. I just have this problem in mind that I want to solve and I want to make it happen. So I made sure to connect with people who can help us, learn the skills that we needed and get to know as much farmers and potential farm backers to make sure that what we’re making is what they need. I’ve always believed that the worst part about being an entrepreneur is that you cannot do it alone but the best part is you don’t have to. There will always be people who are willing to help you and it’s up to you to reach out to them.
What advice would you give other emerging entrepreneurs?
Focus on your customers. Spend as much time doing market validation, getting to know them, what they need and what their problems are. And don’t stop asking feedback from your users after you’ve launched. Make sure to adapt to your customers’ needs. What works now might not work in the future. At the end of the day, you don’t want to build a really good product without anyone to use it.