Fund for African Rural Innovation Promotion

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When we "scout" it means we are picking up ideas from rural people who have approached us, and then we explore with them what it exactly could mean, how it could be a business, who wants to get involved, etc. As soon as the idea is clear, the business hypothesis is clear, and it is clear who wants to try it out, it becomes an "Active Venture". Of course many ideas never make it to an active venture, but that is fine. We need to allow people to voice ideas and see whether there is something there. Here we show those ideas that have at least become somewhat concrete.

Some of these ideas have their own page to show what we already have explored further. If you are interested in any of these ideas, send Email to and tell us more about your interest.

Ice machine in remote villages
If it were possible to produce ice or snow in the village, this will trigger a lot of innovations for allowing villagers to earn money from improving the value chains eg. for milk, fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, etc.
The idea is to explore, design and test technology that can produce ice/snow under off-grid village conditions with locally available energy and no outside materials for operating the equipment (such as coolants, fuel, etc)

Planted trees pay for doing studies

Oumi is a young woman in Makambako who successfully finished her secondary school. She dreams of becoming a nurse. But she and her family can’t afford to pay for 3 years of studies including her upkeep. She is thrown back to try petty trading, small secretarial jobs and farming to sustain herself. And yet her family has land and experience in planting trees for later sale as timber.
The idea is to test the original GRACOMA system in a small way: Let Oumi plant an acre or two of trees on family land. When she can show 2-3 year old trees that GRACOMA can certify belong to her and are monitored by GRACOMA then FARIP will provide her yearly installments of a repayable stipend to study to become a nurse. The trees are the collateral for this stipend. Her repayments then become a source for a revolving fund to continue such tree-secured stipends in the future. If successful, this may become a major program.

Sprinkler Irrigation
See here

Planted trees pay for building dormitories for girls at rural secondary schools
This is a larger effort that still needs to work out operational details. It was triggered because villagers need to build dormitories at rural secondary schools to allow also girls from far villages to attend. But they lack the financing. The villagers came up with the idea that they would designate land for the school and plant trees on it. The trees would be the collateral for a loan to build the dormitory and pay back that loan in about 10 years from non-timber products (charcoal, gras, etc) and from thinnings, and finally from the harvested timber. GRACOMA would ensure the collateral management for this: "Growing Assets Collateral Management".

Build a winnower

In the present value chain for grains farmers have no incentive to clean and dry the grains. They are bought at very low prices by small traders off the farm in whichever way the farmers can manage to make them ready. The reason for this is that there are no control mechanisms in place that allow traders to be sure about the quality of what they get and therefore always have to calculate in the cleaning and drying costs into what they can pay farmers. However, with Transaction Security Services and metal silos in Msowero, this bottleneck is taken care of. Presently there is very inefficient winnowing and cleaning technology available in villages, eg. just for home-consumption.
The idea is to explore, design, build and test simple hand-driven winnowing machines that can be transported on bicycles or motorbikes to farms. These machines should be such that the artisans who manufacture the metal silos can also manufacture these winnowers.

Cater to BOP outlets
The big numbers of bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers in urban centers and along the highways are growing very fast. They are by far the biggest market for agricultural products in East Africa. BOP consumers usually buy from small shops and kiosks. With Transaction Security Services there is a chance to cater to exactly such outlets and ensure the regularity and quality of the supplies they need.
The idea is to establish a chain of small restaurants along major highways that cater to commuters that stop at such road points and travel to the outlying villages. These will start as restaurants but will soon also sell over the counter any and all products that can be organized through TSS for them. The start will probably be for potatoes and oil (for the chips), to be augmented with Maize flour, beans, eggs, tomatoes, cabbage, and later even local chicken, etc…. The aim is to  thereby introduce high-quality regular supply of good food to such outlets and through the TSS mechanisms increase the incomes of the farmers producing such food.

Scheduled Cargo Servies
Transport is by far the biggest operational headache in marketing agricultural products in East Africa. It is also by far the biggest middle cost. A huge part of that cost is due to transport being unreliable, haphazard and entirely opportunistic. This then allows to only do spot-marketing. The inefficiency of transport is presently the biggest bottleneck to improve value-chain operations.
The idea is that a Scheduled Cargo Service could be developed: A truck operates exactly like a bus, leaving and arriving at fixed timetables, whether it is full or not. And it reliably sticks to its schedules that are known by all. Space for cargo can be booked at booking offices in advance. Thereby these trucks run exactly like the known bus-services, except that they sell tickets for bags and boxes and baskets instead of for people.

This is an excerpt of the most advanced ideas that have emerged in our scouting efforts. They are ideas we are committed to work on further with those who came up with them.
The updated list of all ideas that we are tracking along with their status can be downloaded here