Tikkun Olam Can Be Good Business, Too
Israeli agtech has long been shipped out to developing nations, teaching millions how to farm efficiently and cultivate areas that are often otherwise barren.
According to Dr. Adam Abramson, CEO of Farmster, an Israeli agtech startup, agriculture in emerging markets like Africa and Asia is very different than what most of us are used to. “About sixty percent of the population there work in agriculture, compared to only about one or two percent here. Most people are farming and most of them are farming on small farms.”
Many of these farmers are not able to get their crops to buyers in time. The resulting food waste and post-harvest losses of about 40% contributes to a big problem in many regions. On top of that, most don’t have smartphones and easy access to the internet. The phones they do have are simple, limited to voice and SMS text messaging.
So, how can these farmers reach buyers more efficiently? To solve this problem, Dr. Abramson and the team at Farmster created a digital marketplace for agriculture in emerging markets. Using a simple mobile phone, growers can post information about their crops to the Farmster marketplace, which has a chatbot that can process incoming SMS text messages from farmers. “They can text in what they're going to harvest and then the buyers, most of whom have the internet, can actually download the app and then see what's available,” explained Abramson. Using the Farmster platform, buyers can make arrangements to purchase from farmers before harvest. Farmster is already up and running in Tanzania and the results are very promising. The actual crop listings can be seen through a link available at www.Farmster.co, where you can track their progress.
The company recently completed the MassChallenge accelerator program in Jerusalem and was recently accepted to the 8200 Social Program, the first acceleration program in Israel for startups that use technology for “tikkun olam,” as they work to establish profitable businesses while solving significant social problems.
Tikkun olam, literally, “repair of the world,” is a concept in Judaism interpreted by many as the aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially. In the modern era, it’s the idea that all of us bear responsibility for the welfare of society at large.
By working to empower people and alleviate food waste, Farmster is doing just that.
Dan Bloom is the founder of www.StartupStars.io, an Israel-based “meta startup” that helps investors,
prospective employees, and tech enthusiasts to discover early-stage tech companies.