2019: it’s the end of a decade, it’s the year that AFEX turned five; a year full of numerous changes and wins, and a truly definitive year for us as a brand.
Well over the last five years, AFEX has built a business that is inclusive in its approach to creating solutions for Nigerian agriculture. Our model has ensured a fairer distribution of wealth among players, which has gained us the trust of market participants. We have also consistently delivered on the required quantity and quality of commodities for both local and international buyers, which has gotten us the confidence of investors from both commercial banks and the capital markets. The progress we have recorded up to this point, freed us up this year to start thinking a lot about the future and the next phase of our business.
We dwelt a lot this year on initiatives and partnerships that will get us to the future we have imagined; one where we can take advantage of the infrastructure we have built, to deliver even greater value to producers, processors and investors. In this round up article, we’ll recall some of the moments from this year that were incredibly special to us because of how they helped us stay the course and even brought us closer to the future that we’re so excited about.
AFEX 2019 Impact Stories
Code Cash Crop 2.0
We started Code Cash Crop in 2018 to spearhead conversations at the intersection of technology, finance an agriculture. In our first outing for Code Cash Crop, we focused on co-creating solutions that would boost the competitiveness of the agribusiness sector in the country. The second iteration of Code Cash Crop, which held in February this year, saw us turn our sights to steering conversations towards developing payment solutions for rural agrarian communities. The important conversation which stemmed from one of the pillars of our service offerings – financial inclusion – brought an even larger crowd together in one room to develop solutions that will enable more people in our rural communities to get financially included.
In consistently putting agriculture in front of crowds through our annual Code Cash crop event, we are simply going with our belief that the sector is one of the largest and most resilient sectors in Nigeria with the potential to drive amazing returns when the right set of people get involved and invested.
One of the key things that an exchange provides to players is price discovery and transparency in transactions, which is vital for decision-making. Since 2017, we have distributed weekly commodities price data for commodities traded on the Exchange. We doubled down on that practice this year, both making the data available through a lot more channels and even introducing some new reports like the AFEX logistics price report published weekly on our LinkedIn page.
This year saw the emergence of the Xpert brand – the name that we have adopted for staff members of AFEX, which embodies our passion as contributors to the vision, and the core values that we share of empathy, excellence and execution. Experts generally have a lot of knowledge to impart, so internally we launched the Xpert sessions, a bi-monthly period set aside to learn from each other. The amount of knowledge and shared meaning generated from these sessions have been priceless and definitely make up some real special moments.
In July 2019, we introduced a novel platform in Nigeria focused on educating the market on investing in commodities. The motivation for the platform, named EdEX, is the need to channel and unlock funds from retail and institutional sources for the agriculture sector in Nigeria. In addressing the education gap in the market, EdEX was designed to accommodate both online training and digitally distributed learning materials as well as physical workshops, which will enable us to reach various audience groups and satisfy their unique education needs. EdEX was conceptualized to be especially valuable for three key groups of participants – institutional and retail investors, brokers and smallholder farmers.
AFEX Website Redesign
In 2019, we successfully completed a website redesign that’s been a long time coming. AFEX’s new website provides visitors with a more in-depth view of our brand and makes it easier to understand the full view of our work along three key areas: Access and Retention, Big Data and Analytics, and Efficient Markets. We believe that creating and enabling stakeholders to access solutions around these three core concepts will ensure that AFEX fulfills its vision of co-creating solutions to help Africa feed itself.
The new website which still promises to unveil a few new features in the coming months, will in due course become a treasure trove of information of not only our activities as a company, but a lot of knowledge and data on Nigerian agriculture as a whole.
The 60 Decibels Report
About halfway through the year, we got the results of an independent evaluation of our services to farmers. The results gave us an unbiased look into some areas we are winning in, and some places we need to tighten our belts. Some key highlights of the results were:
- 64% of our farmers say the quality of their lives have improved since working with us
- 50% of farmers would recommend us to a friend or family member
- 87% of AFEX farmers lived below $3.20 / day, showing a commitment by AFEX to reach and transact with farmers living in poverty
- Qualitative data revealed that producers valued products offered by AFEX and the monetary benefits that stemmed from them
We’ve appreciated the results in-house and are working on some of the areas of improvement that were spotlighted in the report, which will be key to providing better services to producers in the coming years.
In line with our commitment to providing better services for farmers, this year, we also created a radio programme called Taruwa-Manoma which means Farmers meeting/ gathering of farmers. The programme was focused on farmer lifestyle and best agricultural practices, fitting in with our goal to unlock better value for producers (farmers) through education and sensitization on our offerings.
2019 Input Financing Programme
With new partners onboard, we ran the AFEX 2019 Wet Season Input Financing Programme in Kaduna State, which was aimed at supporting smallholder farmers in their production activities for the 2019 wet season. The programme provided smallholder farmers with inputs that will enable them to increase their productivity through the season, improve their yields at harvest time, and secure better livelihoods from their production activities.
We have run this programme since 2015, delivering continuous impact in unlocking input loans for farmers through financing from retail and institutional sources.
AFEX Harvest Party
To usher in the 2019/2020 harvest season, we partied with about 3000 of the farmers that have transacted with us across three communities in Nigeria. Pampaida, Saminaka and Faskari welcomed us like the old friends and partners that we are, and the three days of singing, dancing and talking to each other gave us a renewed energy to enter into the season.
Our Fundraising Round
To close out the year we were indeed proud to announce the close of our fundraising round which was fully subscribed to by Consonance Investment Managers, a Sub-Saharan Africa focused early-stage and growth investment firm. A necessary investment into our future, the funds will be deployed to deepen retail commodity transactions and strengthen our operations and technology systems.
We’ve selected ten exciting moments and initiatives from our year, which have been powered by the commitment, dedication and support of our Xperts, our partners and our friends. We’re excited about the stories to come in the new year as we continue to roll out initiative after initiative to bring us closer to our vision of co-creating solutions to help Africa feed itself. Thanks for coming along for the ride, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a superb 2020.