JOHANNESBURG - The world's largest brewer AB InBev said on Wednesday a partnership with US fintech company BanQu was giving smallholder African farmers in its supply chain the resources they needed to grow and prosper.
AB InBev Africa is rolling out a blockchain solution developed by BanQu which enables farmers in the company's value chain to have line of sight of their barley, sorghum and cassava sales and receive cash through a mobile money solution.
"Since the second implementation was unveiled earlier this year in Uganda, through Nile Breweries Limited, 1,200 farmers have signed up on the BanQu Blockchain platform," AB Inbev said.
"These farmers now have access to full accounting information, such as sales price, volume sold, and payment – with this information made available via SMS (short message service). They also have records that they can take to the bank, allowing them access to credit and form a verifiable economic identity."
The integration of mobile money means that farmers do not have to walk around with cash that could be stolen, and can instead store money, pay bills or send remittances online directly through the free, secure platform.
The BanQu solution can be applied to almost any industry, AB InBev’s solutions Africa director of innovation and analytics Sameer Jooma said.
"Most people have a rudimentary understanding of Blockchain because it is the platform that enables Bitcoin transactions. What BanQu has done, as the world’s first company to offer this solution, is to take this technology and expand it beyond cryptocurrency," Jooma said.
"After all, what is being moved is information, because even money can be distilled down to data now.”
The partnership also gives AB InBev Africa better visibility of farmers in its supply chain, and the company can easily see how much, and when a farmer was paid as well as track produce from the farm to the brewery through geo-location tags.
AB InBev can also connect with farmers to ensure that they receive the training and resources they need.
AB InBev and BanQu’s partnership dates back to August 2018, when the companies launched a successful pilot project in Zambia. Successive roll outs in Uganda, India, and Brazil have since taken place.
“Over the last year, through BanQu implementations, we have touched more than 4,000 farmers in our supply chain in four markets across the world," Jooma said
"Through this work, we are helping to create an economic identity for our famers, which enables them to access financial services. This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”