TechInAfrica — Cowtribe, a Ghana-based startup is solving a problem of logistics in providing veterinary services to farmers using mobile technology. Founded in 2016, by Peter Awin and Alimah Bawah provide on-demand vaccine and vet services to small scale farmers.
This startup idea came up from the avian flu outbreak occurred between 2006 and 2007 in Ghana. The poultry industry is threatened, the economic experienced huge losses, particularly because livestock farming, and agriculture in general, employ 52% of the population.
The outbreak caused the death of more than 40,000 poultry birds and the destruction of infected eggs. Prices of poultry products and poultry feed market activities are also affected. The outbreak cost the country at least $26.3 million, overall, and nearly wiped 99.88% of Ghana’s poultry stock.
The founders learned from the outbreak that early detection, veterinary services, and vaccination are vital measures to control outbreaks. However, the challenge is that most small scale farmers are scattered across the country.
“Imagine us as an uber for vets,” said Bawah in an interview.
She explained that the idea for Cowtribe was a very personal one. “I and my cofounder both came out of livestock keeping families,” she said.
Originating from her experiences, she revealed, “farmers who are relying on livestock for income have to bear the pain of losing this livestock because they cannot access vet services.”
“So in 2016, we started exploring a solution for this problem,” she stated.
Cowtribe enables farmers to subscribe to veterinary services by phone and creates a tailored schedule plan for each farmer. The startup works with professional vets to identify when a farmer needs certain services and send direct notifications to their phones.
Other than vet services, the company also provides farmers with other agricultural support services. It gives them information about farming best practices and sends them critical alerts regarding disease outbreaks and important weather patterns.
The startup has a huge potential in the agriculture market. According to Bawah, there are more than 2 million smallholder farmers who need vet services in Ghana alone. Meanwhile across the continent, only 15% of farmers have access to vet services, this low access is the reason behind the continent’s farmers loses around $3 billion annually due to animal diseases.
“Our dream is to democratize animal healthcare services in Africa and make it more accessible.”
Cowtribe makes its revenue in two ways. First, it provides a pay as you go model for farmers. At first, this was the company’s only revenue model and it allowed farmers to pay for services and medical supplies on delivery. And the second revenue model is a subscription plan where farmers can subscribe to either a monthly, quarterly, or annual veterinary plan and have veterinary services delivered when they are needed.
“If a farmer has a combination of livestock, it means that we’re going to calculate all these species and tell how much they pay per year,” Bawah noted.
Since its establishment, Cowtribe has grown its customer base to 31,000 farmers with 1,000 of them already signed up as paid subscribers. A large number of its customers are local farmers, but the company says in recent months it has been adding commercial farmers. In July 2018, the company won the Ghanaian leg of the Seedstars World Competition.