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Complete Farmer CEO Reveals More on 2019 Expansion Plans

Sylvana Lewin, Monday February 18th 2019

Recently, Complete Farmer announced that they will be expanding to Cote d’Ivoire in quarter three of 2019. Having entered the MEST Portfolio in October 2017 through the KIC AgriTech Challenge, Complete Farmer, in just over a year, has taken some big steps, including the launch of their flagship product. They ended 2018 pitching at both Demo Africa and TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa.

Complete Farmer CEO Desmond Koney pitching at Demo Africa

It’s not always easy to know how to make the decision for expansion or what process to take when looking to scale. We spoke with Complete Farmer CEO Desmond Koney to hear how his team made the decision to expand and what steps they are taking to prepare as they move closer to opening business in a new country.

Why did you decide to expand in 2019?

Complete Farmer’s decision to expand is based on the success of a beta product we launched last year. We had a lot of data from the beta launch that proved our initial hypothesis and gave us a lot of learnings to scale the business model. The decision to scale a step further isn't only to replicate the success we had last year, but to put ourselves in a position to start learning and validating new hypothesis to scale the business model.

This expansion throws a new challenge at us to build a global business and reach beyond the scope of our past achievements. This expansion would be a great learning for the tech, operations and marketing teams to build systems to ensure business growth. While we keep learning, we also want to gain market share during the learning process.We believe there is a lot to learn, hence we need to ensure business growth and challenge ourselves to meet that growth.

Why did you decide to expand to Cote d'Ivoire?

Cote d'Ivoire is the perfect lab to pilot global expansion. Not only does the country have one of the larger economies on the continent, it also poses a new set of challenges that, we believe, an African start up company needs to overcome to gain market share in Africa and scale globally.

The challenges that interest us as Ghanaian founders are the language barrier, Francophone cultural nuances, the farming industry, and the infrastructure needed to do business. It is one of the economies in Africa that has seen less growth in the tech ecosystems despite the growth of its middle class population.

Complete Farmer wants to make farming a lifestyle rather than a profession for people of different cultures and languages, and we believe Cote d'Ivoire can be a useful testing ground as we conduct an experiment in achieving this vision.

How do you see your business expanding as a result?

Complete Farmer is focused on predominantly gaining market share for the next four years, and this expansion will introduce us to new markets and new value chains. Specific crops also thrive in different regions of the continent, and hence Complete Farmer will be able to provide more value to offtakers once we are able to grow crops in regions where they thrive .

This expansion positions us in a new crop value chain and also increases our operations scope and data collection within this new space. We believe this expansion also allows the company to expand its crowd farmer user base by generating local content in these markets. This fosters easy adaptation.

With this expansion, we will develop a framework for expanding into other markets, irrespective of the economic and operational barriers every market poses. Ultimately this will help us develop market presence in the Eastern, Southern, Western and Northern parts of Africa. In the next five years, we should be present in markets across the continent and help make Africa the farming hub of the world.

What are the steps you are taking as a business expanding from Ghana to Cote d'Ivoire?

Our expansion into Cote d'Ivoire will start with a pilot. This pilot will help us build the right strategic partnerships to set up a base in the country. Our agronomists will also have to learn how to grow some crops in the country to a high level of precision before starting commercial farms. The pilot will allow us to build growth frameworks. We have put in place the human resources to also overcome these challenges.

We are currently carrying out a feasibility and market research study in the region to gain a better understanding of the terrain, and we’re working with our existing partners for future deployment. Complete Farmer is consulting with the MEST incubator to determine the most effective approach for this expansion. We are cautious about this expansion and collecting a lot of data to facilitate easy growth.

Interested in learning more about Complete Farmer? Check out their website here!