Ricult is an Agritech Startup that seeks to foster better information access, opportunity, and ultimately, financial inclusion for farmers via a comprehensive multi-stakeholder ecosystem. Sitting in the center, Ricult’s goal is to provide immense value to each key player, bringing together mills, lending institutions such as Banks, and leverages advanced technology such as satellite imagery feedback and tracking systems for farmers. They partnered with Seven Peaks to employ Design Thinking to help identify, develop and deliver an improved digital experience across their digital products. Ricult has its operations based in three countries – Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.
The first part of Design Thinking is to fully understand the problem that is sought to be solved. That’s why the Design Discovery process is critical to the journey towards maximizing potential value and tangible business results.
In the case of Ricult, we were initially approached to work on the consumer-facing application (BaiMai for Farmers) because it was believed that this would be the area for the best potential for improvement. However, after our Design Discovery process brought in participants from each represented stakeholder group – not only Ricult’s project owners – we learned through collaborative discussion and mutual agreement that the best area of improvement was in the Agent Application (RicultX) that was used by Ricult’s staff to connect with Farmers, a more internally-facing enterprise application than the original brief.
What we did for Ricult
We conducted live workshops with many of Ricult’s stakeholders to uncover real pain points and decide the things we should be targeting to add the most value through UX/UI design and digital experience improvement, seeking to achieve true product-market fit.
We worked on the following key outcomes for the Ricult Ecosystem:
UX/UI for a digital platform designed for Ricult’s farmers to leverage technology and gain greater access to financial inclusion and increase productivity.
Enhancing the Digital Experience for all stakeholders, the Farm Management Application was made for Ricult’s key stakeholders, ensuring sufficient supply for mills and distributors.
A farmer profiling, loan assessment and management platform, used by banks to better evaluate and manage the credit risk of their end consumers.
Our Design Discovery Process involved four main phases, Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. In the Discovery Workshops, we sought to achieve the first component of Design Thinking – to fully understand the problem statement. We brought all of the different stakeholders together for this specific purpose, which proved to be critical in identifying the true pain points that currently existed in the Digital Experience.
From that, we then worked on the Information Architecture and ideated new features and designs to meet user expectations. Finally, we executed agile development concepts to create rapid prototyping of concepts, iterating and validating each idea as fast as possible in order to arrive at a Minimally Viable Product (MVP) and associated features.
The Ricult Ecosystem
Ricult cultivates a vibrant ecosystem within the agricultural landscape, connecting various parties through its innovative platform.
The Ricult App
The foundation of Ricult's ecosystem, this free app serves as a digital marketplace and information hub for farmers. It tracks farm data, offers management advice, connects farmers to markets and loans, and facilitates communication with other stakeholders.
As the primary beneficiaries, farmers use the app to improve operational efficiency, access loans, secure fair prices, and manage finances. Ricult leverages satellite imagery to track crop production data, crop health, and provide crucial information such as best practices, educational resources and tools.
Banks and Financial Institutions
Partnering with Ricult, lenders gain access to data-driven credit assessments, enabling them to offer loans to previously excluded smallholder farmers. Ricult helps to reduce the risk exposure for lenders and improves the advanced management of defaults – troubleshooting any potential problems earlier on and providing more options to resolve these problems using technology.
Mills and Agri-businesses
These users benefit from direct connections to farmers, ensuring a reliable supply of quality raw materials, efficient logistics, and market insights. This component of the application is intended to foster the connection between Farmers and their Wholesale Distributors, offering access to better prices and harvest planning through digital technology.
Collaborating with Ricult, this part of the ecosystem provides data analytics, AI-powered insights, and secure platform infrastructure.
Government Agencies and NGOs
Governments and NGOs have the option to partner with Ricult to promote financial inclusion, sustainable agricultural practices, and rural development through training programs and policy initiatives.
Key Ecosystem Dynamics:
• Farmers utilize the app to generate data, connect with buyers, and access financial services.
• Banks leverage the data to offer loans and assess risks, while mills and businesses use it to optimize procurement and market strategies.
• Technology providers support infrastructure and platform enhancements, and government/NGOs contribute to capacity building and policy development.
Benefits of Ecosystem:
Enhanced financial access, market integration, improved farm management, and increased income.
Banks and Businesses
Reduced lending risks, secure supply chains, improved efficiency, and market access.
Increased market share and contribution to agricultural transformation.
Government and NGOs
Improved rural development, increased food security, and sustainable agricultural practices.
Ricult's Financial Assistance for Farmers
Ricult tackles farmers' financial struggles through a multi-pronged approach:
1. Data-driven loan facilitation
Ricult's app gathers farm data (crop, acreage, yield history) and connects farmers to banks with suitable loan options. This data analytics usage reduces lending risks, making banks more willing to offer loans to smaller farmers who traditionally struggle with access to financing.
2. Improved market access
Ricult partners with buyers, directly connecting farmers to mills and eliminating exploitative middlemen. This ensures fairer prices for farmers and faster payment cycles, boosting their cash
3. Farm management optimization
The app provides weather forecasts, crop recommendations, and pest control advice, potentially increasing yields and reducing costs. This enhanced efficiency contributes to better financial outcomes for farmers.
4. Transparent credit scoring
Ricult builds credit profiles for farmers based on their app data, facilitating access to formal financial services beyond loans.
5. Free app, revenue from partners
Ricult's app is free for farmers; they generate revenue by charging premium services like advanced analytics and market insights to partnering financial institutions and agribusinesses.
Ricult's Business Model
Ricult operates a hybrid B2B2C model:
B2B: Partnership with banks, mills, and other agribusinesses.
B2C: Offering free services to farmers, building a data-rich farmer network.
Ricult charges premium services and data insights to their
Ricults may receive commissions on successful loan applications
or direct sales facilitated through their platform.
Ricult has the potential to anonymize and aggregate their
vast farm data, selling it to research institutions or agribusinesses for market analysis.
Essentially, Ricult creates a win-win situation for farmers and their partners by leveraging technology and data to improve financial access, market efficiency, and farm operations. This innovative approach holds promise for transforming the lives of smallholder farmers and making agriculture more financially sustainable.
Financial Inclusion for Farmers
The specific uses of a loan taken by a farmer through Ricult will depend on their individual needs and circumstances. However, some common ways farmers might use this financial boost include:
1. Investing in farm equipment and infrastructure
• Purchasing new tractors, irrigation systems, storage facilities, or other equipment can significantly improve efficiency and productivity, leading to higher yields and income.
• Upgrading existing infrastructure, like barns or processing facilities, can also enhance farm operations and product quality.
2. Purchasing seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs
• Access to quality seeds and fertilizers can optimize crop growth and yields, translating to higher returns.
• Purchasing pesticides and other pest control measures can minimize crop losses and ensure better harvests.
3. Financing land improvement projects
• Loans can be used to invest in land leveling, soil conservation practices, or drainage systems, leading to long-term improvements in soil fertility and productivity.
• Installing renewable energy systems or water-saving technologies can reduce operational costs and contribute to sustainable farming practices.
4. Hiring additional or seasonal labor
• During peak seasons or for large-scale projects, additional labor might be needed. Hiring seasonal workers or permanent staff can ensure timely completion of tasks and boost farm productivity.
5. Diversifying crops or livestock
• Loans can facilitate experimenting with new crops or livestock breeds, potentially yielding higher profits or adapting to changing market demands.
• Investing in value-added activities like processing or packaging farm products can further increase income and market reach.
6. Managing cash flow and covering operational expenses
• Loans can provide crucial financial support during lean periods or unforeseen circumstances like weather events or equipment breakdowns.
• They can also help farmers invest in marketing and distribution channels, expanding their customer base and increasing sales.
Ricult promotes responsible lending practices and encourages farmers to carefully consider their needs and repayment capacity before taking a loan. They also offer financial literacy training and resources to help farmers make informed financial decisions.
Ultimately, the use of a loan through Ricult is an individual decision tailored to each farmer's specific goals and aspirations. Overall, Ricult's ecosystem fosters a collaborative environment where each party benefits from data-driven insights, improved efficiency, and access to valuable resources. This creates a positive cycle of financial empowerment, sustainable agriculture, and economic growth for all involved.