We believe that to tackle the global issue of food insecurity in a sustainable way it is vital to connect rural and urban communities on low incomes. BEEB is essentially a model of information and organisation that links rural and urban well-being. The two communities escape food insecurity together.
BEEB connects a cooperative of small-holder farmers directly with the slum dwellers using two simple parts: basic cold storage facilities and a mobile phone order and payment system.
We construct an energy efficient cold storage facility on the edge of the slum. The cooperative pays rent for space in this facility. We transport their produce from a well located collection point to the cold storage. The price for the produce is decided by the cooperative and advertised to the customers by text message. For logistical and payment reasons, the customers need to order above a minimum quantity. So immediately we will have the interest of existing street food vendors who can afford a minimum purchase. However we also want to provide a new opportunity for individual slum families to regularly buy and cook with fresh produce.
To do this, we create a network of BEEB hives. Hives can be houses, shops, food stalls within the slum. They work for a small commission to help the community to place collective orders. The hive manager receives a text message which tells her about the vegetables available and their price. She advertises the deal and collects individual orders from her friends, neighbors and customers. She uses her local knowledge and trust relationships to build a strong network of clients. Once she meets the minimum volume, she places the order by text message and receives a collection time. When she collects the produce from the cold storage she pays the farmers’ cooperative directly using her mobile phone. We will work with a mobile banking partner so that every time a transaction is made, we receive a percentage of the small transaction fee. This money is reinvested into the creation of hives and the BEEB infrastructure, allowing BEEB to expand quickly.
What is the social impact of BEEB?
The clearest gains of the Beeb model are for farmers and slum dwellers. Cold storage facilities allow farmers to propose quality produce for a longer period. They no longer have to panic sell for fear of spoilage and we have removed the cost of intermediaries. This allows them to offer customers a better price. Using our model, the farmer’s income increases by at least 30%. And the customer’s price is 40% – 50% better than current market price, including a commission for the BEEB hive manager. The hive manager supplements her existing income, and the community has easy access to desired fresh produce at low prices.
BEEB is about coordinating urban poor with limited individual purchasing power. By communicating the information that they need BEEB allows them to access the local produce that they really want by connecting them directly to the people producing it.