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Mobile App from MIT Sloan Alum Facilitates Loans For Pakistani Farmers

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MIT Sloan recently published an article on its blog about Ricult, a new startup aimed at giving “the world’s poorest farmers direct access to credit and supplies through a mobile platform.”

According to co-founder and ’15 Sloan Fellow Usman Javaid, many of the world’s poorest farmers often “can’t afford seed, pesticide and fertilizer,” let alone tech, education or health care. Javaid explained that many of these farmers are forced into a predatory debt cycle with local middlemen from which they have little hope to escape. “Financial exclusion is the core of the issue, and that’s what we are trying to address with our platform.”

Ricult was founded by Javaid and system design and management student Aukrit Unahalekhaka. According to the article, the two teamed up after they realized they were both interested in using mobile technology to benefit the agricultural industry. Ricult’s innovative design—funded in part by the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship and a cash prize from the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge—incorporates data such as “weather and real-time market prices to make recommendations to improve farms’ productivity.”

400 Loans for Pakistani Farmers Distributed to Date

Since Ricult’s February launch in Pakistan with “seven operations employees,” the company has generated more than $10,000 revenue, which it has distributed to more than 400 registered farmers. Once farmers register, Ricult’s platform enables users to order supplies and speak with credit partners about loans. According to the article, “The money is then transferred to Ricult, which manages delivery of the products to the farmers. Ricult earns a small percentage of each transaction.”

The agriculture market in Pakistan is extremely lucrative, estimated to be in the billions. According to Unahalekhaka, “There are no other players in this area that use technology to disrupt the industry [the way Ricult does].” According to the article, Ricult has plans to expand to China, India and Thailand.

*Pictured above: Ricult co-founder Aukrit Unahalekhaka; photo courtesy MIT

This post has been republished in its entirety from its original source,