Somalia-based startup Ari.farm allows investors to purchase and trade livestock over a mobile app. CEO Mohamed Jimale answers our questions.
1. Give us your elevator pitch.
On Ari.farm you can buy, own and sell livestock such as camels, goats and sheep from your smartphone. We are giving access to Africa’s livestock market (currently active in Somalia and expanding soon to Kenya) to global investors who are looking for alternative and impactful investments. We enable our global users to become digital livestock farmers and to trade animals in the local livestock market from their smartphone. On the ground we are making a real social impact by creating jobs for former nomads and improving the livestock market.
2. How did you finance your startup?
After quitting my job at the UN in 2016, I used my last salary to finance the start of the company.
3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?
If we got $1m it would go in developing our physical and software infrastructure. We will invest in building more camel farms and expand the distribution of fresh camel milk beyond Somalia. We would also use it to improve our technology to increase the efficiency of our operations and grow our global user base.
4. What risks does your business face?
The major risk we face is droughts, which is exacerbated by climate change. Access to quality livestock feed is also key. In addition, since our users come from all over the world, we have also faced challenges with access to financial institutions as many international payment providers don’t value Africa-based businesses.
5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
Social media and word of mouth has been our main source of users. Since the launch in late 2016 we have acquired customers in 35 countries without spending any money on marketing.
6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
I was very excited when we got our first users from South Korea. I didn’t know how they discovered us but this for me showed the power of technology and how it can connect the world. Imagine someone in South Korea who owns a camel in Somalia.
7. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what have you’ve learnt from it?
My biggest mistake will probably be not being careful enough to partner with family. It is important to work with people you trust but I have learned it is important to separate business and family.