Introducing Blockchain-based Microfinancing in Kenya with Twiga Foods and IBM

CEO, Twiga Foods, and IBM Software Engineer, at a Food Kiosk Store in Kenya

Twiga Foods, a mobile-based supply platform for Africa’s retail outlets, kiosks, and market stalls, is finally moving a part of its platform onto the Blockchain. The blockchain-based service will help food kiosk owners get financing for growing and expanding their small businesses.

Speaking about the decision to use blockchain on their platform, Grant Brooke, the co-founder of Twiga Foods said:

“Previously, we were focused on helping farmers distribute bananas, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to 2,600 kiosks across Kenya, but we soon realized that we could help them sell even more produce with access to working capital. It’s simple, if the food vendors can sell more, we can distribute more, growing both of our businesses.”

Credit Scoring on the Blockchain

IBM is using Machine Learning and Mobile Data to Disburse Loans on the Blockchain

The company has partnered with IBM to leverage machine learning and mobile data to develop credit scores that would be used to inform and give out the loans.

According to Andrew Kinai, the lead software engineer on the project at IBM Research said:

“We had several iterations of the platform based on feedback from the retailers. The SMS-based solution provided an effective channel for a diverse set of users, some with limited IT literacy, to access financing for their orders,”

“We analyzed purchase records from a mobile device and then apply machine learning algorithms to predict credit worthiness, in turn giving lenders the confidence they need to provide microloans to small businesses. Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment,” said Isaac Markus, a researcher on the inclusive financial services group at IBM Research in Kenya.

Looking Ahead

According to IBM, the success of the Twiga Foods pilot opens up the platform to be rolled out to more SMEs across Africa by the end of the year and expanded into new sectors.