Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Health And Welfare Public Relations Tech

Tech venture steps up to manage COVID-19 food parcel and voucher deployment in South Africa

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As part of its COVID-19 response, GreenFingers Mobile (GFM) has re-purposed its agri-tech software, as a free service, to support non-profits and community-based organisations to digitally manage and ‘innovatively’ fund food parcel and voucher delivery to their beneficiaries.

Funders can use the platform, and its data to transparently fund food parcels and vouchers as and when they are delivered to beneficiaries. GFM was developed primarily as a mobile-first ag-tech solution, which manages and finances smallholder farming networks across the African continent. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, the team realized that the technology requirements between agri-businesses managing large networks of African farmers are very similar to NGOs deploying food parcels to vulnerable households.

Since its launch 10 days ago, GFM has begun working with four non-profits and community-based organisations in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal, and Eastern Cape, and is in the process of digitally loading 12,000 households, and supporting the feeding of over 40,000 beneficiaries on the system. Additionally, GFM has interest from eight organisations, covering a further 55,000 households, and is in the process of securing its first pilots in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

As non-profits are ramping up their support to millions of poor, food-insecure households affected by COVID-19 in Africa, they are confronting a range of challenges.

According to Max Pichulik, GFM Co-Founder, there are large food security gaps given the lack of collaboration and clean household data sets. “Organisations are manually, and independently, managing the food demand (both food parcels and vouchers) on beneficiary lists, with no clear understanding of what the real food security need is on the ground. This results in poor management of matching food supply to demand, and consequently no representative mapping on the ground of the degree of food insecurity.

“Secondly, there is a lack of organised and consistent funding at scale for organisations serving communities across South Africa. These organisations additionally struggle to provide transparent data to donors regarding who has been served and the aggregate needs of the communities they are serving,” he says.

Pichulik adds that there is a lack of management capacity as many of the organisations are relying on a large volunteer network, who will soon be returning to work. “These volunteers will need to be replaced with full time, trained resources, and robust business models to professionalise their service,” he adds.

GFM can address some of these challenges by allowing non-profits to digitize their beneficiaries by creating a digital ID of each household, their beneficiaries, capture additional socio-economic data, and manage their frontline workers on the ground. In addition, the GFM solution facilitates delivering direct to homes, rather than the collection process, which makes  social distancing challenging due to queues of people.

This progressive web app, which can also be used offline, allows users to create date, time, and GPS stamped zero-rated transactions (food parcels, food vouchers and any other product) over a time period attached to each digital beneficiary profile.

Pichulik adds that if the data gets aggregated, it can measure actual food security or insecurity at both a household and community level, which will unlock more targeted funding and interventions.

Funders will be able to target vulnerable households (e.g. disabled, child headed, elderly), and finance validated food parcel data as and when it is uploaded online. This is a data driven, funding  innovation, that is already present in other developing countries, but not South Africa. “This innovative funding mechanism can ensure that food parcel theft is minimised, and provides assurance that food parcels reach the targeted beneficiaries,” says Pichulik.

Other features include a closed online collaboration system for non-profits to share best practices, collaborate between field workers on the system, as well as third party financial services integration where required.

GFM invites all funders and non-profits to join a COVID Response Webinar on Tuesday, 12th May 2020 at 10h00-11h00.  For more information and to register visit:

https://app.livestorm.co/impact-amplifier/greenfingers-mobile-covid-response-webinar

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