Mastering Technology Adoption

##Market considerations

“The small farmers will wait, but the higher income ones will invest in new technology”
-Musenga Siliwawa, Founder of Spot Agro

In his effort to make Zambian farmers adopt his new technology, Musenga was quick to note that each class of farmers had a different buying pattern and required a different approach. The large, high income farmers were fast to adopt his fertilizer applicator citing their urge for time efficient and labor cutting cost innovations, whereas smaller, low income farmers were initially reluctant to experiment with his product.

“Those above 10 have more issues with time, labor; they’re looking for the latest tech”
-Musenga Siliwawa, Founder of Spot Agro

He therefore came with a plan that accommodated the small scale farmers, who were a far larger market. He targeted to sell them his product after a season or two, to allow them ample time to budget for it and evaluate the efficiency of the applicator so as to gain confidence on it. This way, he was able to sell his applicator to many small scale farmers. It just took time and patience.

##Challenges of a new technology

“You’re initially driven by enthusiasm, but then market realities sink in. You’re creating something great but your market is maybe 100K smart phones”

  • Teddy Ruge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of and Hive Colab

Just like Musenga, Ruge also first found it difficult to convince the mass to adopt his new remittance service. First, he had to make sure the market was there. He understood that having a great product doesn’t mean very much if most of your consumers don’t have the technology you need to use it. This thinking kept his product development realistic and tailored to his customers.

So in both cases, the answer wasn’t to go out and force consumers to adopt the technologies Ruge and Siliwawa needed for their companies to thrive. Both took things slow, both waiting for the customers to be ready and slowly priming them when possible. This showed that building a company in Africa based on new technologies is possible with the right strategy.