They never stop, do they? Cassava Smartech is set to launch Vaya Tractor, an extension of their Uber-like mobility and logistics offering, Vaya Ride hailing. When Cassava Smartech was unbundled from Econet, many sceptics saw this as a reflection of possible underlying problems. Little did they know that it was the first move of a giant spreading its wings. A few weeks down the line, the growth is there for all to see as both Econet and Cassava continue to pioneer on everything they touch.
In a Facebook post, Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa says, “Working with our entrepreneurial partners at TroTro, from Ghana, we are finalizing the first roll out of Vaya Tractor, beginning in Zimbabwe to be followed by Botswana! Last week, our people at Vaya in Zimbabwe began to on-board tractor owners onto Vaya Tractor. We plan to recruit 10 000 tractors to plough for our 1m Ecofarmer members.” From the word go, it is commendable that this offering is not going to be limited to Zimbabwe since Botswana and possibly other countries are earmarked. In addition, this tells us that Vaya Tractor will benefit from the work that Ecofarmer has already done.
How will this work?
“This is the age of the internet and shared economy. You don’t need to own a tractor. And there is no need to be phoning around, we know each tractor, and have tools that enable us to ensure the farmer and the tractor owner are able to transact using EcoCash,” says Mr Eddie Chibi, Cassava Smartech Chief Executive Officer. According to 263 Chat, the Cassava CEO says plans are already in motion to extend to other agricultural machinery and transportation. He adds, “We want to add every type of machinery available for agriculture. We are also adding trucks of all sizes to the App within the next three months.” Like Uber, tractor owners register their tractors on the system and when someone needs the services, a tractor is deployed depending on proximity to where the work is to be done. Many farmers who have no access to tractors till their land using hoes and this can be cumbersome and time consuming. Having access to a tractor will be a welcome development if the pricing is favourable.
Focus on agriculture
Again, this business will be almost impossible for competitors to replicate. The reason is simple. Econet has invested a lot of financial resources, expertise and time in Ecocash and Ecofarmer which they will leverage on to quickly scale up Vaya Tractor as well as make it seamless. Furthermore, agriculture has the potential to drive economic growth if given proper support. That is a fact. You only need to look at tobacco export earnings to justify this. Data from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) shows that the country closed 2018 at US$892 million in tobacco export revenue. With more focussed support, these numbers can rise. This is just one crop. What more if we consider horticulture and other produce which can be exported. It’s a definite win-win for farmers and Cassava Smartech.
Econet and Cassava Smartech continue to lead the way. Even though the country is not doing well economically, they keep positioning themselves to reap maximum benefits by addressing pertinent challenges that people face daily. The future is promising. We watch and learn.