More than 500 million smallholder farmers grow 70% of the world’s food, yet they’re among the poorest people on the planet. The result? A never-ending cycle of poverty for those who contribute so much to global health but get so little in return.
In 2020, BCG brought BCG X to partner with Olam, a major multinational food and agribusiness company, to launch a profit-for-purpose venture called Jiva, which is dedicated to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in rural agricultural economies.
The venture took a unique and differentiated approach to provide smallholder farmers with an integrated set of services:
In 2022, the startup achieved 300% year-over-year growth, earned a market share of 20% to 25% in key operating areas, and reached more than 70,000 farmers. Most farmers who have used Jiva have increased their crop yields by up to 40% and their incomes by as much as 25%. Ultimately, as Jiva builds trust with farmers, the company will be able to provide more digital advisory services that use machine learning to help increase yields and profits further.
Building off BCG’s established functional and sector expertise in emerging technologies, agribusiness, business building, and innovation, BCG X validated, incubated, and commercialized the venture. We conducted thousands of hours of expert and in-field interviews in Africa, Indonesia, and India to assess farmer pain points and unmet needs—and establish areas where we could help optimize operations, increase yields, and grow incomes.
We then built Jiva by defining a business model, setting up on-the-ground operations, defining an organization structure, supporting recruiting efforts, and designing an infrastructure that could be scaled for global impact. Finally, we developed the go-to-market model and launched the venture.
Beth Viner, X. Ventures
market share in key operating areas in the first year
up to 25% increase in farmer income
up to a 40% crop-yield increase for farmers using Jiva’s agronomy services
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