South African founded and owned Agri-FinTech start-up, HelloChoice, has announced the finalisation of a major investment from Standard Bank, solidifying its market leading position as the premiere digital fresh produce and agricultural marketplace.
HelloChoice, founded in 2018 by Grant Jacobs and Graeme Jarvie, who had a vision to modernise the traditional way of buying and selling agricultural produce. Initially self-funded and based on a vision to build a thriving trading community, HelloChoice has also always been committed to addressing broader food security and socio-economic needs in this sector. HelloChoice is the first independent fresh produce trading platform with a broader ambition to promote economic prosperity and market efficiency to benefit both buyers and sellers.
The company’s business to business digital marketplace has proven to be a powerful tool for both buyers and sellers and in its first 30 months of operation, had over 2,000 users join and traded over R100 million, ensuring better market access and prices for farmers, and faster product access and lower prices for buyers.
Based on this successful track record, in 2020 HelloChoice was invited to partner with Standard Bank on the hugely impactful OneFarm Share hunger relief and food security programme using HelloChoice’s bespoke technology platform to connect farmers with registered charities and feeding schemes. OneFarm Share matches requests for food relief with excess fresh produce from emerging farmers, commercial farmers and food processors as a reliable, trusted, channel for them to donate their surplus food to help overcome hunger and poverty.
OneFarm Share is now operating nationally and at 31 August 2021, had increased the supply and delivery of hunger relief donations to 3,200 tons equating to 12.8 million nutritious meals for vulnerable children and communities. More than 50% of the produce procured or donated thus far was sourced from 43 emerging farmers, and efficiently distributed to 1 million beneficiaries through 750 registered beneficiary organisations, through key food distribution partners like FoodForward SA. The balance of the food contributions came from commercial farmers and food processors.
The recently announced 25% equity deal with Standard Bank will enable HelloChoice to continue in its mission to promote economic prosperity and food security through modernising and digitising agricultural trade. “Standard Bank’s equity purchase in HelloChoice affirms the bank’s aspirations to play a broader role in the agriculture ecosystem, and forms part of the wider ecosystem strategy, which houses OneFarm and OneFarm Share. It demonstrates the bank’s commitment to building agri-entrepreneurship and food security in the country,” says Wendy Pienaar, Head of Ecosystems, Standard Bank.
Co-founder and CEO of HelloChoice, Grant Jacobs explains what this investment means for the expansion of HelloChoice as a digital online marketplace: “HelloChoice is more than a business to us – it’s an uplifting cause to build a thriving trading community that benefits all participating agricultural and food sectors role-players. HelloChoice is spearheading the modernisation of agricultural trade as we digitise food production and trade, to help unlock and protect value in this sector so central to nourishing and sustaining life. The strategic investment will help us to further fund ongoing tech investment and operational capacity, as we leverage our complementary offerings and strengths to deliver more innovative services and solutions to customers in South Africa and across our continent. At a personal level, I am energised by the good work we are doing and the adventure of building an impactful and significant business.”
HelloChoice is constantly innovating and will be shortly be rolling out its next major mobile app release, including TradeAlerts that uses geolocation and customer profiles to better connect buyers and sellers. Future releases will include machine learning and blockchain technologies to enhance matching and traceability.