My African Startup

 

On this episode of the wisinomad Dialogue Series, we are joined by Thuto Gaotingwe, an entrepreneur based in Botswana and co-founder of Modisar, a livestock farming platform that helps farmers to keep accurate records & to continuously monitor their farm animals.

 

The name Modisar is derived from the Tswana word for “livestock caretaker.” Modisar is designed as a desktop and mobile application that does not always require an online connection, allowing farmers in remote areas to continuously keep track of their livestock.

 

Thuto’s vision is to improve farmer’s productivity through the platform through a continuous monitoring system and provision of a knowledge base, along with market insights. Modisar also offers a marketplace for farmers to sell their cattle, and to be able to buy  as well. They are currently testing a tracker that enables farmers to know the physical state and location of each individual animal.

 

The idea to create such a platform came about when his co-founder, Tebogo Dichabeng, inherited some livestock but was disillusioned with generations of subsistence livestock farming and wanted to venture into livestock farming as a commercial venture.

 

As such, they needed to change the approach to record-keeping. And there didn’t exist a platform for record-keeping – on such things as lineage of his animals, breeding, vaccinations, feeding, and staffing among other things – ready for use. Seeking a way to automate this process and manage this venture, they built Modisar.

 

All of this is important particularly in the Botswana context, where a common joke is ‘that there are more cattle than people,’ which Thuto quickly verifies as Botswana has over 2.5 million cattle against 2 million in population. Botswana also produces some of the best beef, quoting premium prices on the international market despite little quantities.

 

The relationship with beef is very special with Botswana. The conditions are conducive for livestock farming, even sheep and goats, and most of the framing is free-range which makes Botswana beef so different.

 

But cattle-rearing is steeped in tradition. Cattle are considered a store of wealth, given that Botswana most reared livestock as opposed to growing crops (partly because of the climate). And beef was the largest export out of the country before diamonds were discovered in Botswana.

 

“His parting advice for entrepreneurs is to be patient, particularly in the southern African region as he has found that getting capital takes considerable time.”

 

Cattle was even an integral part in the establishment of the University of Botswana system through the One Man, One Beast( motho le motho kgomo) movement. It remains an important part of the lobola,  where the groom’s family pays bride price in the form of cattle, as a way of establishing relationship with the new family in traditional Batswana wedding ceremonies.

 

As such, the Modisar platform aims to perform a valuable social service to Botswana and beyond. Modisar has won numerous awards as a result, with the Orange African Social Venture Prize being notable. Thuto does note that they have had trouble monetizing their product, and so offered the platform for free as a start.

 

His parting advice for entrepreneurs is to be patient, particularly in the southern African region as he has found that getting capital takes considerable time. Modisar is still a work in progress, and they continue to add more features in order to help farmers monitor the well-being of their livestock.

 

To learn more about wisinomad program, visit www.wisinomad.com, and send in your application

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