Empowering East African Farmers Through Human-Centered Design

A new digital platform aims to improve farmers' access to markets, increase price transparency and speed payments.

The Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion today announced the launch of 2KUZE, a digital platform that connects smallholder farmers, agents, buyers and banks in East Africa. 2KUZE, which in Swahili means “Let’s grow together,” enables farmers to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via their feature phones and opens up access to financial services.

We spoke to John Sheldon, senior vice president of Innovation Management for Mastercard Labs about the design and why development of 2KUZE and digital solutions for farmers and small merchants is important to Mastercard.

2KUZE empowers farmer-friendly agents, like Gilbert Misoi, from Nandi Hills to provide a greater percentage of the wholesale value to farmers by providing price transparency and more direct access to buyers.
Image: Land in Gereida, South Darfur, is farmed by residents of the nearby Forika camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Women, children and the elderly – rather than the camp’s men – are usually the ones to farm as working further afield could put them at risk of rape, robbery and other dangers. The African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has deployed a more-than-800 strong battalion from Ethiopia to assure civilian protection in the area. Women from Forika work the land during the rainy season. 24 July 2012. Gereida, Sudan. UN Photo/Albert González Farran.
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