Startup snapshot: Connecting Kenya’s rural small scale farmers to urban traders

Dominique Kavuisya, co-founder and CEO of Taimba

Taimba is a Nairobi-based agtech startup that runs a cashless platform connecting rural small scale farmers to urban retailers. Dominique Kavuisya, co-founder and CEO of Taimba, answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Taimba is a B2B, mobile-based platform connecting rural small scale farmers to urban traders and digitising payments. We aim to improve farmers’ income by creating a ready market and paying fair prices while streamlining the agricultural value chain that is currently very chaotic, prone to post-harvest wastage and overpriced fresh produce. Taimba delivers to urban fresh produce traders with a focus on informal green grocers, of whom 83% are mostly women, at a lower than market price and to their premises. Taimba’s main products include tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cabbages and carrots.

2. How did you finance your startup?

We financed our startup through family savings that we had shored up as a married couple.

3. If you were given US$1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

This would be used to strengthen and expand our distribution markets within Nairobi and pilot in Mombasa city, on-board more farmer co-operatives and train them, put in place cold storage to minimise on food wastage, enhance our technology and create price stability in the market. We would like to invest in some research and development on value addition to further cut on food wastage during glut periods.

4. What risks does your business face?

Seasonality/climate change as most of our farmers are small scale and are affected by adverse weather. We counter this by diversifying our sources of fresh produce, hence the plan to also expand into other countries to further mitigate this risk. Cold storage will also ease the effect of long periods of drought and gluts.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

In terms of customer acquisition, it has been the door to door model of introducing the company to our retailers and the resulting word of mouth marketing when we meet customer expectation. A large portion of our client base are informal green grocers who are very relational. We also leverage on farming and trading investment groups to recruit more members on the sourcing side.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

On a rainy day when we first went to the field with fresh produce samples to convince informal green grocers we can deliver fresh produce to their premises. We got more orders than we had planned, validating the need for the service.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what have you’ve learnt from it?

In the beginning, we built systems when we had not validated the business case. This was when we were piloting a B2C business model for fresh produce only to discover the market was just not ready for fresh produce on minimal orders. We, therefore, pivoted to B2B which has turned out to be the best decision we’ve ever made.