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Startup uses analysis to sell African produce

US startup uses analysis to sell African produce

Ghana-based startup Jetstream has adopted a data-driven approach to change the way international food buyers source African agricultural produce, which it claims fixes the broken supply chain, addresses food waste and supports economic growth.

Active in Africa out of Accra, Jetstream launched in May 2018 to remove the uncertainty of the manual, trial-and-error procurement process it says plagues the continent, costing buyers and producers more than US$11 billion in revenue annually.

It does this by replacing it with a tech-driven platform that predicts future crop yields, improves traceability, confirms industry standards and regulations, and streamlines logistics to ensure consistent and cost effective delivery from farm to buyers.

"Jetstream meets the evolving demands in food quality from international buyers and fights food waste on unsold crop yields by obtaining buyer commitments to procure agriculture from smallholder producers," said co-founder Raquel Wilson.

Through the Jetstream platform, buyers place pre-harvest orders, indicating specifications and required certifications, such as halal, kosher, non-GMO, organic or fair trade. After an ideal supplier is selected, the platform aggregates, sorts and sends final specifications to producers in a single purchase order.

Producers then complete production and submit verified updates through Jetstream's representatives. The platform automatically updates buyers on crop forecasts, landed costs, tariff changes and delivery times. When the order is ready, Jetstream dispatches logistics and customs partners for export.

"The platform is an automated system for ordering, paying and tracing production and delivery of agri-food products, from the time seeds are planted through the delivery of products to the buyer's doorstep," Wilson said.

"We enable producers to secure advance commitments from retail buyers, and prepare, in advance, for upcoming planting and harvesting season with practices and certifications that meet the buyers' specifications."

The Jetstream team, which has an accumulated 25 years of collective experience in logistics, business and development in emerging economies, met through the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, where they spotted that international agri-food buyers who wanted to source agricultural products from African suppliers used antiquated, time consuming methods such as phone calls, emails and in-person meetings to discover and screen potential suppliers.

"Additionally, slow adoption of digital tools that can easily match supply to demand, weak coordination among value chain players and insufficient monitoring of regulations and industry standards are all gaps that Jetstream found could be fixed to add value for both buyers and suppliers," Wilson said.

"Replacing these fragmented practices with a big data approach to supply chain transparency will position Jetstream, and Africa, as an agricultural trade-leader in global agri-food procurement."