GFM repurposes agri-tech software to manage food parcel and voucher delivery

7th May 2020 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Software-as-a-service technology platform developer GreenFingers Mobile (GFM) has re-purposed its agri-tech software to assist the digital management of food parcel and voucher delivery initiatives.

The free service supports nonprofits and community-based organisations to digitally manage and transparently fund food parcels and vouchers as they are delivered to beneficiaries.

The platform was initially developed as a mobile-first agri-tech solution, managing and financing smallholder farming networks across Africa, but could now serve as a platform mitigating the challenges nonprofits face as they ramp up their support to millions of poor, food-insecure households affected by Covid-19 in Africa.

“There are large food security gaps given the lack of collaboration and clean household data sets,” said GFM cofounder Max Pichulik, explaining that the team realised that the technology requirements between agri-businesses managing large networks of African farmers are very similar to those of nongovernmental organisations delivering food parcels to vulnerable households.

The software allows nonprofits to digitise their beneficiaries by creating a digital identity of each household and their beneficiaries – as well as capture additional socioeconomic data – and manage their frontline workers on the ground.

“Organisations are manually, and independently, managing the food demand – both food parcels and vouchers – on beneficiary lists, with no clear understanding of what the real food security need is on the ground,” he explained.

This results in poor management of matching food supply to demand.

Further, there is a lack of organised and consistent funding at scale for organisations serving communities across South Africa and organisations struggle to provide transparent data to donors regarding who has been served and the aggregate needs of the communities they are serving.

The GFM solution, which can be used offline, also facilitates delivering direct to homes, rather than the collection process, mitigating the social distancing challenge on the back of long queues.

The Web application allows users to create date-, time- and GPS-stamped zero-rated transactions for each digital beneficiary profile.

“If the data gets aggregated, it can measure actual food security or insecurity at both a household and community level, which will unlock more targeted funding and interventions,” said Pichulik.

Funders will also be able to target vulnerable households and finance validated food parcel data as and when it is uploaded online.

“This innovative funding mechanism can ensure that food parcel theft is minimised and provides assurance that food parcels reach the targeted beneficiaries,” he continued.

The platform also features a closed online collaboration system for nonprofits to share best practices and collaborate between field workers on the system, as well as enable third party financial services integration where required.

GFM has started working with four nonprofits and community-based organisations in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, and is in the process of digitally loading 12 000 households and supporting the feeding of over 40 000 beneficiaries on the system.

Further, GFM has received interest from eight organisations, covering a further 55 000 households and is in the process of securing its first pilots in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.