Startup snapshot: Zimbabwean duo allows everyone to participate in the business of farming

Zimbabwe-based YouFarm provides farmers with access to collateral-free funding by getting people to invest in crops and livestock and share the profits with the farmers when the produce goes to market. Co-founders John-Paul Matenga (36) and Kudzai Zhanje (32) answer our questions.

1. How did you finance your startup?

We have been bootstrapping since day one.

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

It would go towards hiring talent so that we can scale. It would also go towards taking YouFarm to other countries in the SADC region so that we can provide farmers with a new way of getting agricultural finance.

3. What risks does your business face?

Climate change and commodity prices are our biggest risks.

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

Facebook and Whatsapp have been very good to us as we have been bootstrapping, so you can imagine that there is a $0 marketing budget.

5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

The day that we harvested and sold our first crop was most exciting for us because it represents the day that we took a farmer with no collateral from $0 all the way to harvest, meaning that YouFarm was no longer a theory.

6. Tell us about your biggest mistake.

Our biggest mistake was not taking the dive and putting together a team quickly enough. As soon as we put the team together things went from zero to 100 very quickly.

7. In addition to your own company, name one untapped business opportunity in Africa.

E-commerce for emerging markets. You see vendors selling things like clothes on the street or from the boot of a car. Others sell products like lotion or even vegetables. We are getting more and more connected with cheap smartphones. The person who can create an online storefront for all these people to rent an online page and sell their goods online and then combine that with a payment system that includes an escrow facility plus delivery service – they will be singing.