The story of Mazao Hub is a story of pain and suffering. It is a story of my grandmother, who could not escape the exploitative buying from middlemen and post-harvest loss. It is a story of my own struggles, trial and error just to survive as smallholder farmer, to transport farm produce to the market, a task that was filled with overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. It is a story of the relentless determination to fight against all odds, to create an e-commerce platform and to do better, only to fail. But it is also a story of hope, of my friend and I finding the courage to go back to the village and learn from our mistakes, to develop an innovative solution that would help smallholder farmers and transform Agriculture for the better.
The story of Mazao Hub began long ago in the villages of Sumbawanga, Tanzania, where my grandmother and I worked as poor smallholder farmers. We faced issues like exploitative buying from middlemen, poor productivity, post-harvest loss, lack of direct markets to trade, logistical inefficiency, lack of credit facilities, lack of agronomic support, everything was trial and error and much more.
Sometimes, I had to use a bicycle to transport farm produce to the market, which was more than 30 miles away. This meant that we often lost money, time, and produce due to multiple layers of brokers involved in getting goods to the market, each of whom took a cut that ate into our family's income.
My grandmother's words to me - “When you grow up, come back and save us, we poor smallholder farmers” - stuck with me. While others may have been ashamed of or frustrated by family background, I saw opportunities.
My late grandmother's voice rings in my ears every day. Her words, spoken with a heavy heart, stay with me as I work hard to try save smallholder farmers in Africa who still share her struggles.
I had a dream to make things better for her and all smallholder farmers even before her departure, it pains me that I failed with my first attempt and she died. My first attempt, I started an e-commerce platform for smallholder farmers called Sokoworld.com with my good friend of mine, Adelard Urassa as CTO, hoping to solve her problems and all smallholder farmers in Africa. Though our users numbered more than 20,000, we ultimately failed. We thought we are going to make things better for smallholder farmers in Africa by connecting them directly to the market bypassing middlemen but ended up with the same middlemen as users not our targeted farmers.
I left the City with a heavy heart went back to my village, dreading the long journey ahead. I was desperate to learn from my mistakes and understand why my startup had failed. Working with smallholder farmers, agronomists and agro input dealers in the Village brought home the harsh reality of the situation: Small Scale Farmers in Africa are not getting the support they need due to a flawed local agronomy and agro dealer distribution system and an unfriendly agricultural Value Chain, which leads to low productivity, poor quality produce and food wastage. Furthermore, there isn't any proper food systems to track quality and data about smallholder farmers. The government is facing the same challenge. Most of the data about farmers from Africa is based on guesses and inaccurate estimations, making the situation even worse. Returning to my grandmother's farm to learn from my mistakes was a bittersweet experience. I was filled with a deep sadness, and yet, I was filled with hope that I could make a difference and help fix the current system.
I had to go back to the drawing board. I called my partner with a newfound sense of determination.
“We have to build farmers mapping and farm ERP systems by first working closely with agronomists, agro dealers, farmers’ associations, farm enterprises, food manufacturers and cooperatives - and, for now, we won’t depend on grants anymore. These guys will pay us, because we are solving a very painful problem for them”
We began our bootstrapping journey and MVP development early in August 2021, frantically re-registering our company in July that same year. After burning the midnight oil, our MVP was ready and we were proud to acquire our first 10 paying users(manufacturers) in October to December 2021. As a cherry on top, we were accepted into the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) incubation program in December 2021. Starting out as two Co-Founders, Adelard Josephat Urassa (CTO) and Geophrey TENGANAMBA (CEO), we are now a team of ten, each with a unique set of skills and experience.
We have a combination of full stack software developers, business professionals and unstoppable sales experts, with one of our first employees, Sharon Novatus Makunga, now among the Co-Founders and a company director. Her commitment and passion to build the product's foundation has been invaluable. We can feel the joy and pride emanating from each of us, a feeling of immense accomplishment and relief.
We have grown to become UjuziNet Group as Cloud based enterprise software’s and applications under a single infrastructure developed to automate operational activities covering various industries branded based on their related industries. We have experienced immense pain and sorrow as we have worked hard to expand our business and develop these solutions, but the joy of being able to provide such innovative solutions to help automate various industries makes it all worth it.
Our First Core Brand is Mazao Hub: SaaS based Digital Agriculture and Farm ERP platform to manage farmers, farming activities and control complex farm operations, make data-driven decisions, optimize cost, improve yields based on real-time insights and advanced field analytics from planning to harvest designed for Individual Farmers, Commercial Farmers, Agro dealers, Farming Cooperatives, Manufacturers, Traders and all other agricultural stakeholders. With Mazao Hub as farmer you can
Mazao Hub main functionalities:
a) Farm Resource Management (Crop, fields, machinery, people, inventory)
b) Farm operations (planning, tracking, and analyzing complete crop production)
c) Farm Scouting (NDVI Satellite Imagery, pest and disease knowledge-base, photo evidence with geo-tagging)
d) Weather and risk intelligence (Weather data, weather alarms, pest and diseases risk alarms.)
e) Farm Finance Management (invoices, payables and receivables, budget, loan management)
f) Farm dashboards and analytics (field analysis, yield analysis, crop profitability, ROI, farm finance KPI's, reports)
g) Traceability report
Mazao Hub Platform is accessible here and available on Google Playstore as Mazao Hub. We have users in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda but our headquarters is based in Dar es Salaam at Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) building, 3rd Floor - something that was a long time coming, but filled us with immense joy and pride as we have grown as a company.
Our Second Core Brand is EMA. EMA means “Enterprise Management and Automation”.
EMA is a Complete intelligent enterprise platform under a single infrastructure to simplify and automate core business processes in Courier business, Logistics, Construction, Manufacturing, Clearing & Forwarding, Retail and other sectors with their related project management modules, CRM, inventory, accounting, Human resources, financial management etc - a development that was incredibly difficult, but incredibly satisfying when we were able to complete it.
Customers can open their accounts here in 3 minutes and select their specific sectors . Register their companies and assign roles to their staffs and start using EMA Systems within few minutes. We have covered industry based requirements for each sector starting with their specific business processes and workflows based on their business environments. And we will keep adding more features and requirements based on user’s requests, business environments covering Africa context or any others during expansion plan, it also includes analytics & related templates tailored for Small and medium sized businesses. Whereby they pay for what they use monthly or annually - a process that causes us a great deal of anxiety, but also a great deal of accomplishment as we see our solutions helping more and more businesses.
3. AdBoxDigital Inc : A Social Media Automation Tool, Influencers Management, CRM, social media management and analytics & related templates tailored for Small and medium sized businesses. Whereby they pay for what they use monthly or annually. The platform is accessible here - a development that was incredibly difficult, but incredibly satisfying when we were able to complete it. This company is specifically registered in USA with users in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya ,Tanzania and we are intending to make it global CRM platform.
4. UjuziNet: E-Learning Intelligent Systems for higher learning institutions to enable them create course and sell online courses including diploma, degrees and even PhDs. The Platform is accessible here - a development that we all worked hard on, and filled us with immense joy and pride when we were able to deliver it.
We welcome organizations and individuals with the same vision as partners, investors or even advisors. I promise you with you may be just may be we might build something like Alibaba or much bigger for Africa smallholder farmers. Despite the long hours and hard work that have gone into making this dream a reality, we have pressed on with dedication and have been rewarded with great success.
Contact : [email protected]
Mobile : +255655973248.