Start-up of the week: in Guinea, M-Makiti watches over the prices of agricultural products

Boubacar Diallo

The mobile service M-Makiti informs, on a daily basis, farmers and consumers about the price of agricultural products or seeds in Guinea. Supported by Orange, and accompanied by the government, its co-founders Mamadou Bah and Thiam Oumar, are overflowing with projects.

“When I come across a problem that I or others are living with, I imagine a solution that I materialize with applications,” says Mamadou Bah, 30, co-founder with Thiam Oumar (also 30) from Banki Group.

The two partners met in 2014 at the Kaloum Bluezone, one of five leisure and incubation centers set up by Vincent Bolloré in the immediate vicinity of the Guinean capital. Mamadou Bah, a Guinean born in Dakar and returned home in the early 2000s, had just graduated in Computer Methods Applied to Business Management (MIAGE) by Kofi-Annan University, the first private faculty in Guinea. Thiam Oumar is from Kankan, the regional capital of Upper Guinea (more than 600 km east of Conakry) located about 700 km east of Guinea, and studied the law of Business of the Private Higher School of Legal and Economic Studies of Mohammedia, Morocco.

With his young group, the duo is on all fronts: there is Banki Technology, which has created the Djoliba portal, renamed Guinea University online guidance platform (Gupol), to enable future students to register for distance in their chain; Banki Trans, dedicated to urban travel; and lastly, Banki Agro Invest, the mobile service provider of M-Makiti, which provides day-to-day information to sellers and buyers, farmers and consumers about the price of agricultural products or seeds in Guinea.

 

Orange Developer Challenge Award and 2nd Social Entrepreneur Award in Guinea
M-Makiti – whose name comes from the word soussou Makiti (market) – was born last April, thanks in part to the support of the operator Orange Guinea, which awarded it the 2015 Orange Developer Challenge (1,000 euros) and in 2016 the second Social Entrepreneur Award (1,500 euros). The two partners say they themselves have invested more than 15,000 euros in the project that tries to solve a crucial social problem: “We realized that peasants in particular suffered a lot. They produce in large quantities, and sometimes they are forced to sell their products at a loss to prevent them from rotting, for lack of means of preservation. ”

To connect consumers and producers and facilitate the marketing of products, Thiam Oumar and Mamadou Bah initially designed a website before realizing that “most farmers do not have a smartphone or tablet and do not have easily access to the internet. They conclude it must be able to do without the internet.
To consult the prices charged in markets covered by M-Makiti across the Guinean national territory (26 in early June, or close to one market per city, on about 700 markets listed across the country), just dial * 113 # – as to check your balance – from any phone containing an Orange sim card and make your choice by following the instructions.

Clear the trend of the day
The customer subscribes to a daily, weekly or monthly subscription for respectively 200; 600 and 2,000 Guinean francs (2, 6 or 19 euro cents), of which 30% comes back to the partner company Orange, leader of the telephony in Guinea with more than six million subscribers. He may also subscribe to notifications of putting in relation with the seller or the buyer of a certain product.

To collect the information disseminated, M-Makiti uses local service providers – currently 25 – who travel the various markets to raise prices – which can vary enormously from one region to another, as they are not regulated. These agents, paid between 50 and 150 euros per month, confront different prices of the same product to release the trend of the day following a specific calculation method. “It’s a very complex job, because often the traders are reluctant to communicate their prices,” says Mamadou Bah. Sometimes we even have to buy the product to know its price. ”

Two new applications in development
After a few weeks of existence, M-Makiti has attracted more than 10,000 subscribers, says Mamadou Bah, who reports, however, some difficulties in approaching his prospects: “We must popularize to understand our project to farmers who are often illiterate but we have significant support from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Presidency, the National Confederation of Farmers’ Organizations of Guinea and the Saboutech Incubator “. The contractor is thinking of creating a call center to convey in different languages ​​the same information available in USSD.

The two partners do not intend to stop at M-Makiti. Banki Group is currently working, via Banki Technology, on an application expected by the end of July, to facilitate access via Google Play Store to programs of the Guinean Radio Television (RTG public TV) for Guineans of the diaspora. As for Banki Trans, it is working on a solution to facilitate the mobility of road users in Conakry, a capital saturated by traffic jams … A solution that designers refrain from detailing at this stage.

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