Investing in Ignitia: improving smallholder farmers livelihoods

Ignitia is supported by IKEA Social Entrepreneurship to scale its tropical weather forecasting business to 3.7 million clients by 2022, both in Africa and beyond.

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship supports Ignitia to reach smaller holder farmers with accurate weather forecasts to allow them to better align their farming activities with the –now predictable- weather situation. The improved farming reduces costs for fertilizers, leads to higher yields and hence higher farmers’ income.

Equity investment
By supporting Ignitia to scale their business IKEA Social Entrepreneurship B.V has made its first-ever equity investment in a social enterprise. Ignitia will use this investment for team expansion, marketing and additional supercomputer capacity

The steps to success

1. The work that needs to be done and why

Currently, forecasts over tropical areas are not accurate and affect 500 million small scale farmers worldwide, managing 75% of the world's farmland. Tropical farms are a key ingredient in satisfying global food demand.

In rural parts of West Africa, the weather is the largest cause of yield loss for farmers today, due to fact that it’s the only source of water for a large majority of farmers. Small scale farmers in tropical regions lack reliable weather forecasts to make informed decisions in the crop lifecycle. Such as when to plant, apply fertilizer, hire labour and machinery, harvest and dry, causes. This causes large risks and many failures. 
Ignitia has developed predictive analytics with an ability to tell whether it is going to rain or not, at what time and, which intensity in the tropical belt.
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2. The benefits for people

Smallholder farmers play a crucial role in establishing sustainable food systems. 98% of the world’s agricultural holdings are 10 ha or less and almost all of these small farms are in developing countries, where they support around 2 billion people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 80% of farmland is cultivated by smallholders. [1]

Ignitia has developed a solution for small scale farmers in tropical climates to make better farming decisions on weather-sensitive activities in the field. Farmers can sow, fertilize and harvest at optimum times, maximizing precious resources and reducing risk across the full farming cycle.
This results in a significant increase in income per season for farms, by risk-reducing operations. Six additional people’s economy impacted for each farmer reached. Other benefits are:
 
  • Reduced poverty, higher standards of living
  • Reduced loss of agricultural and monetary inputs
  • Reduced water pollution by chemical runoff
  • Efficient use of farmland, reduced degradation of soil, decreased deforestation due to reduced need to extend farmland

3. The solution and how to make a bigger impact

Ignitia has developed ‘Iska’, a daily 48-hour rainfall forecast delivered via text message directly to the farmers. Its predictive analytics tell whether it is going to rain or not, at what time and at which intensity.

The notifications these farmers get include monthly and seasonal outlooks of weather trends available in any local language. Famers who are making use of this solution sign up for a low-cost structure with payments in micro-instalment of $0.04/day.

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship B.V has made its first-ever equity investment in a social enterprise to support Ignitia to scale their business and make a bigger impact with Iska. The investment will be used for further expansion, marketing and additional supercomputer capacity.