myAgro was founded in 2011 by Anushka Ratnayake.
Anushka began her career in international development at kiva.org, and went on to join One Acre Fund in 2008. At One Acre Fund, she lived and worked in Kenya, where her job was to develop a repayment process for smallholder farmers on their microloans. She spent her days talking to farmers – farmers who repaid their loans and those who struggled to repay. As she listened, she noticed that some farmers wanted to pre-pay their loan a few months or even a year in advance.
Though they used the language of credit, these farmers were actually describing their need for a self-financing model.
Anushka spent months traveling and researching alternatives to credit for smallholder farmers, but to her surprise, she could not find a single organization, company, or government that operated a savings program for farmers to invest in their farms.
Seeds and fertilizer are two of the biggest costs in a smallholder farmer’s life, but they are sold differently than any other product. Whereas a farmer can go to their local store and buy $1 of sugar or 50 cents of oil, seeds are only sold in bulk — $100. Anushka wondered, “How can we make buying seeds more like buying oil or sugar? Can we create a system that allows farmers to pay slowly over time?”
Anushka found herself buying phone credit from a local store in rural Rwanda often. This problem of savings for farmers had been rolling around in her head, and suddenly she thought, “What if seeds were sold like phone time? Buy a card; pay for a bit of seeds.”
In 2011 with support from One Acre Fund, Anushka moved to Mali to test her savings-based payment model for seeds, fertilizer and training with 240 farmers. Since then, she has led myAgro to become a multi-country program, working in Mali, Senegal, and Tanzania with a total of over 89,000 farmers.
myAgro is committed to empowering smallholder farmers, especially women, to reduce poverty and increase food security.
While myAgro started by pioneering the use of mobile layaway, it has quickly evolved into an enterprise that provides comprehensive support to smallholder farmers on every level. From delivering high-quality input packages to providing both in-person and remote training, myAgro works with farmers year round to increase yields and income.
myAgro received early recognition by Skoll Foundation, One Acre Fund and Mulago Foundation and received prestigious awards from: Echoing Green Fellowship, Rainer Arnhold Fellows, Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneurship. Anushka was recently recognized as a 2020 Social Innovator of the Year by the Schwab Foundation.