Co-operative Bank of Kenya, in collaboration with MasterCard and Rabobank, established Co-op Bank Soko, a pioneering online marketplace in February 2021.
This digital platform has successfully onboarded 400,000 farmers, fostering connections between agricultural stakeholders and enhancing various aspects of the sector.
Objectives and Partnerships: Bridging Agricultural Gaps
Co-op Bank Soko strives to empower farmers by securing better prices for their produce, facilitating access to high-quality inputs, and offering Co-op Bank’s financial services.
The platform, formed through a strategic partnership with MasterCard and Rabobank, unites farmers, input providers, and produce buyers, ensuring a cohesive agricultural ecosystem.
Leveraging Technology for Financial Inclusion: Co-op Bank’s Vision
The Co-operative Bank of Kenya, a prominent figure in the agricultural sector, leverages its extensive network to support small-scale farmers.
By addressing market linkages, produce pricing challenges, access to quality inputs, and financial services, the bank aims to foster financial and economic inclusion.
Co-op Bank Soko offers loans to registered farmers, enabling them to redeem essential farm inputs from affiliated suppliers.
Challenges Faced by Kenyan Farmers: Addressing Barriers
Kenya’s agricultural sector, constituting 21.2% of the GDP, employs over 40% of the population, predominantly organized through co-operatives.
Despite this, farmers encounter obstacles such as high input costs, weather patterns, market access issues, cartels in production chains, and inadequate infrastructure.
Co-op Bank’s initiatives directly confront these challenges, providing financial support, insurance services, and facilitating access to affordable goods and services.
Potato Consortium: Ensuring Quality and Modernizing Agriculture
Co-op Bank, a key member of the Potato Consortium, collaborates with expert firms to guarantee the potato value chain’s integrity.
By offering financing to potato farmers aiming to supply specific varieties required by major food outlets like Kentucky Fried Chicken, the bank enhances the overall quality standards of food products, aligning with the preferences of modern restaurant chains.
Through this consortium, Co-op Bank continues to revolutionize the agricultural landscape in Kenya, ensuring sustainable growth and prosperity for farmers.