On this return flight to Banjul, The Gambia from Johannesburg where he participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, Modou N’jie, CEO of Farmfresh reflects happily on the events of the past days. The excitement of winning the Audience award at the GEC 2017 is somewhat alike to the feeling he had in July 2015 when he attended the TEF Forum as a member of the inaugural class of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.
This Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur is changing the landscape of Agriculture in the Gambia. Seeing that Gambian farmers in the rural areas were losing a lot of revenue due to their inability to transport their vegetables and fruits to the urban areas and also lack of marketing their produce, Modou in 2014 setup The Gambia’s first and currently online fresh food store and delivery company – Farmfresh.
With an e-commerce platform www.farmfresh.gm, Farmfresh leverages on the estimated internet penetration in the Gambia of 17.6% to sell farmers produce online, accepting payment online and as well doing deliveries of the orders not only from Gambians in The Gambia but also Gambians in diaspora who use the platform to remit FRESH FOOD to their families back home. Offering a wide range of products ranging from fresh local vegetables, local fruits, local eggs, fresh dairy products, fresh fish and seafood products, local chicken and a whole range of local processed and packaged dried food items, Farmfresh’s partnership with the farmers has ensured that these farmers receive a steady and fair income on a regular basis thereby improving their standard of living.
Within 3 years of operation, Modou and his relatively small team of 3, have transformed the Agriculture market with their idea gaining recognition by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry as one of the emerging businesses in The Gambia for the year 2015 and very recently winning the Audience award of the Global Entrepreneurship congress, Johannesburg.
Like all other virtually driven business ideas new to Africa, Farmfresh encounters challenges in the use of local online payment platform, hence the Modou’s team innovated to accepting cash on delivery as well as leveraging on the recently introduced mobile wallets and mobile payments system in The Gambia to receive payments. Farmfresh also faces the challenge of lack of a proper addressing system around the country when an order is placed thus relying on verbal description of places from clients.
Farmfresh is also spreading its grounds to other aspects of agriculture, Modou says “Every year muslims in The Gambia celebrate Eid Adha which involves sacrificing a ram. Just out of fun we decided to test the market two years ago to buy and sell few Rams. This was so highly appreciated from Gambians abroad that they started buying and even booking for the following year sales in advance. We are now thinking of having our own sheep farm to rear and sell them during each Eid feast”
Modou refers to himself as a social entrepreneur who sees beyond the challenges providing free seeds to farmers to grow high yielding and rare vegetables which have a higher market price such as strawberries, cauliflower , broccoli, spinach , celery, etc.
Beyond the business angle of Farmfresh, Modou educates The Gambians on the need for a healthy living through a weekly article – YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT which runs on local newspapers. organisations to build their capacities in entrepreneurship. We run a weekly article in one of the local newspapers called YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT wherein we educate the public about the importance of eating vegetables and fruits to stay healthy
Modou says he owes the success in business to the benefits he has gotten as a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, “The mentoring, training and funding has greatly transformed our business and has helped us make significant gains in our business. The business skills i acquired during the training has greatly influenced my business decisions after The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme 2015 and i am also coaching other Gambians to follow the my path. My experience as a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur has been fantastic and very rewarding”
Modou and Farmfresh can be reached on social media through; Facebook : www.facebook.com/farmfreshgambia, twitter = @farmfreshgambia,