It is befitting that in my first ever article on Tekedia, I utilise the opportunity to set the stage for the emergence of Agenpo’s commodities exchange platform. The commodities exchange platform will be the bedrock of my official contributions to the growth and development of the African economy, starting from Nigeria.
Agenpo started in 2016 as an agro commodities trading company. The following year, we added solid mineral commodities into the mix. Therefore, we’re basically a company that buys and sells agricultural and solid mineral commodities. However, this changes from Friday 20th September 2019 when we officially launch our commodities exchange platform. In other words, we will pivot from trading selected agricultural and solid mineral commodities to providing a technology-enabled marketplace where the trading happens.
This pivot didn’t just come up. It’s been two years in the works. Yes, it took me just a year as the Founder to realise that there was a huge problem in the space in which my company was playing. Being a trader, I was essentially a middleman between farmers and artisanal miners (producers) and manufacturers and processors (off-takers). My position as a middleman gave me a unique view of the commodities space which I probably wouldn’t have gotten any other way.
There are so many problems and inefficiencies in the commodities trading space that are begging for solutions. The only solution is a functional commodities exchange. Reading this, you may be thinking, “well, there are those in existence already”. However, when you think of it that commodities exchanges don’t buy or sell commodities, then it dawns on you that those names that quickly come to mind aren’t actually doing commodities exchange work. This is where Agenpo steps in.
So, on the 20th of this month, we will officially roll out our commodities exchange platform. It will be like no other in Nigeria, Africa or anywhere in the world. We have not bought any foreign software, neither have we copied any existing model. We have simply come up with a market-driven model aligned with Nigerian peculiarities but that’s not all. We have basically come up with a commodities exchange that is unbounded and unconstrained by geography in Africa. Yes, this is a commodities exchange for Africa tailored to the peculiarities of each country. So, while we’re launching in Nigeria on the 20th, we will open up to the rest of the continent before the end of the year.
The strategy is simple. Farmers and artisanal miners of selected commodities in Africa will we able to register themselves on the exchange. The same goes for other stakeholders in the value chain. Find your service and register yourself! By doing this, off-takers throughout the world will be able to simply get their required commodity raw material with just a few clicks. With a few clicks, everything happens. Literally, everything! Money moves, produce moves. With very minimal human intervention in information flow. So, it’s a commodities exchange that aggregates end-to-end commodities trading operations to farmers, artisanal miners, commodity transport and warehouse providers, as well as off-takers, to achieve an efficient commodity trading framework. It’s an ecosystem for African commodities trading.
The efficiency we will achieve will be due to some key factors. One of such factors is that ‘middlemen’ like us in our current state will be cut out of the value chain, thereby leaving only value-adding stakeholders in the value chain. Another is that prices are transparent and show in real-time. This eliminates time-wasting experienced when haggling over prices. It also ensures that the producers are not short-changed. In effect, we will be doing real commodities exchange work. Agenpo will not be buying or selling anymore.
All the relevant regulations in each of the countries will be met as we’re very ethical in our business practice. Where that is impossible within a certain time, we will seek to get legal waivers until we’re able to meet such regulations. Until then trade must happen for the sake of the African rural economies. Trade must happen economic growth of nations. Trade must happen for peace amongst countries.
Nigeria and Africa in general are in dire need of manufacturing and processing concerns. Therefore, while presenting a business case to existing ones to use an efficient and regulated commodities exchange, thereby cutting down on their robust procurement operations (with each company running its own independently), we will be presenting a business case for establishing new ones so that African commodities undergo value addition within the continent to create African jobs, grow African economies and achieve African peace. I have a feeling this aligns with the ideals of Mr. Tony Elumelu’s “Africapitalism”.
I am not on this journey alone. There are indeed some human enablers within and outside of Agenpo involved in one way or another. More details on this on the launch date. In the meantime, I’d like to hope that this pre-launch article inspires one person to be proud of mama Africa knowing that the technology to power this dream was built from scratch by Nigerians in Nigeria.