In Uganda, the local agriculture markets that many small-scale farmers depended on were inefficient. Often, neither customers nor farmers knew which markets would be open on which days. So farmers only had access to a limited number of customers. That limited their profits.
Farmers’ profits were further complicated by middlemen who knew the current market price of a product while the farmers did not. The middlemen could buy from a farmer and sell the product at a higher price to customers.
As a student at Makerere University in Kampala, YALI Network member Lisa Katusiime decided she could do something to make the country’s agriculture marketing system more efficient. With fellow student Isaac Omiat, in 2013 she created AgroMarketDay, a mobile phone application that enables smallholder farmers to get their products to the right markets at the right time and at the right price.
The app also enables farmers to access farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers and tools. The application features information about modern methods of raising crops, livestock and fish. The co-founders won startup funding from communications company Orange Uganda Limited. Katusiime, now 24, who in 2014 received a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, serves as AgroMarketDay’s business development manager. Omiat, now 27, a former farmer, is the venture’s lead developer.
“I have a clear, logical mind with a practical approach to problem-solving and a drive to see things through to completion,” says Katusiime, who also co-founded Likamis Software Limited, a company that develops computer and mobile phone applications and games. Her passion for information and communications technology in agriculture enabled her to reach out to youth involved in the Young Farmers Coalition of Uganda. An advocate for girls in communications, she is a member of Afchix, or African Women in Technology, which encourages girls to study for careers in computers and technology. In 2013, she was invited to speak at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in the United States.
“I advise young women interested in information and communications technology (ICT) to go ahead and pursue their careers. … Women, too, can make it in the ICT space,” says the semi-finalist for the 2014 U.S. Global Innovation through Science and Technology competition for science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies.
“The competition helped me to create awareness for AgroMarketDay and got me to interact with many people, which greatly helped me improve my marketing skills,” she says.
“I advise young African entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs to identify their passion, follow it, dream it and live it, because when you identify your passion you are unstoppable,” she says.
Of YALI she says, “It inspires and motivates me every time I see fellow young people’s achievements featured.”