You often hear me say that “our customers run their entire business on Kinvey.”  It makes each one of us at Kinvey even more proud and honored when that business is changing the world.

Meet Hello Tractor, an agricultural technology company that turns a traditional tractor into a “Smart Tractor” and enables farmers in Nigeria to request tractor service over SMS. Think of it as “Uber for tractors”.

Jehiel Oliver, CEO of Hello Tractor, and his team at Hello Tractor, are on a mission to solve real labor challenges of farmers and food security issues in their communities. Their innovation and drive to disrupt the status-quo will be showcased by their participation in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 being hosted by President Obama this week in Silicon Valley. We are proud to have Hello Tractor running on Kinvey’s backend as a service.

Nigeria has some of the richest farmland in Africa. There are 35 million small farmers and about 80 percent of them rely on external labor to plow their fields. Because of rapid urbanization and aging farm populations, farmers don’t have access to the labor they need to farm their land, so they plant late, produce less for their communities, and lose significant income.

Tractors are the solution, but in sub-Saharan Africa, most farmers cannot afford the $40,000 cost of traditional 55 horsepower tractors. In Nigeria alone, it is estimated that there is a shortage of over 73,000 tractors. Tractors also need maintenance and spare parts, which are not readily available. The landscape is littered with abandoned, broken tractors.

Hello Tractor took another approach and partnered with John Deere to design a low-cost Smart Tractor specifically for small farmers needs. The 15 horsepower tractors are one-tenth the cost of traditional machines and come equipped with all the attachments needed to complete in one day what would take a week to do manually.

Through a collaborative consumption model, Hello Tractor is making tractors available to populations that need them the most. For every day a farmer plants late, they lose 1.5% of their yield. And a typical farmer in Nigeria plants 30 days late. So there is literally money being lost on the field.

Labor is also expensive, when it’s even available. It costs about $200/hectare to prepare a plot of land. Hello Tractor’s equipment can do that same work for $75. Farmers plant on time, grow more food for their community, and save money by using this platform. After costs, tractor owners can typically make $25 per day versus $5 per day for manual labor. And they can usually recover their initial investment in less than a year.

The Hello Tractor symbiotic relationship has yielded some early wins. The early adopters have seen their crop yields increase by 200 percent, using an approach that is 40% faster than manual labor.

The powerful booking system allows farmers to conveniently request, schedule, and pre-pay for tractor services from nearby Smart Tractor owners via SMS messaging and mobile money.

The app includes:

  • SMS service booking
  • Data analytics on usage, maintenance requirements
  • Maintenance scheduling
  • GPS remote tracking of tractors

We are an early stage startup. We didn’t have the resources to put up a backend. With Kinvey’s baas, we literally developed our Android app in 2.5 months and we didn’t have to worry about the backend at all. And, more than just a powerful mobile backend platform, Kinvey provided the human support to make sure we were successful. If we can get our technology on as many tractors as possible, we can confront food security head on and improve the livelihood of millions of people.

Jehiel Oliver, CEO and Founder of Hello Tractor.

See Hello Tractor in the news:

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