Blog: When digital services need a human touch

AgriFin Mobile partners with the private sector to provide sustainable, cost-effective digital financial and rural advisory services to smallholder farmers. Operating since 2012, a key to the program’s success has been the importance of human interface when introducing digital services and products.

AgrFin Mobile has taken different approaches in each country it operates, in Indonesia, it has partnered with the banking sector, in Uganda, it has worked with third party service providers, and in Zimbabwe, it has partnered with the leading MNO, Econet. While the environment for reaching smallholder farmers has varied in each country and with each business model, one thing that has been consistent is the need for people spend the time and energy to introduce digital products and services to smallholder farmers.

One of largest differences in reaching rural communities over the last seven years has been mobile phone penetration. Mobile phones allow us to reach and provide services to rural populations with negligible costs, but too often the services are not understood by the targeted population. Extension works, agents, and other local representatives can act as the human interface when trying to reach smallholder farmers. AgriFin Mobile is planning to present how we are working with the public and private sector to ensure that all of our projects have a human face.

by Trey Waters, United States