Start-up’s online financing platform for Ukrainian farmers navigates two rounds of judging to snag award for “most creative and compelling innovative work.”

Two panels of development experts have recognized Vkursi Agro, a grantee of the Chemonics-implemented USAID Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) activity, for its innovative solution to agricultural financing challenges. The award was announced at last week’s Society for International Development – Washington Chapter’s (SID-W) Annual Conference as part of the organization’s annual Innovation Contest.

“We’re thankful to SID-W and the judges for this recognition,” said Chemonics’ President and CEO Jamey Butcher. “I’m inspired by the entrepreneurialism and innovative spirit of my colleagues on the AGRO activity and of our partners at Vkursi Agro. At Chemonics, we’re firm believers in identifying and enabling innovation. Through partnerships like these, we can increase our development impact – particularly when innovative ideas have the potential for scale.”

Vkursi Agro and Chemonics captured the judges’ attention with Vkursi Zemli, an online platform that simplifies, accelerates, and improves access to funding for Ukrainian farmers. Recognizing the need to demystify the loan process and shorten the amount of time traditionally required for land valuation, AGRO has teamed with Vkursi Agro to support development and deployment of the Vkursi Zemli platform.

Vkursi Zemli analyzes land plots for more than fifty parameters based on real-time open sources and state registers.

“Our platform uses data from satellite monitoring, soil, crop rotation, yield history, proximity of water, or irrigation availability. The farmer only has to enter the desired loan amount and send the request to partner banks. The loan requests and audit results come to the managers’ accounts,” Vkursi Agro CEO Roman Hrab explained during the SID-W Innovation Showcase.

In minutes – rather than days – the platform’s scoring protocol enables managers from partner banks to valuate the land. And farmers have a straightforward way to use their land assets to attract financing at competitive rates.

Vkursi Zemli comes at an opportune time. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for online solutions has increased. Furthermore, Ukrainian farmers and landowners expect a phased re-opening of the land market to begin in July.

More than 3,000 farmers have used the platform. Those interested in buying land have placed 120 pre-orders for when the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land lifts.

“We expect credit rates for farmers to be reduced up to 1%. The commercial banks’ commission for the operations of processing and verification of loans is 0.99%. Thanks to Vkursi Zemli, banks reduce their administrative costs and will be able to offer farmers lower rates,” said Hrab.

Judges assessed the Innovation Contest entries in two rounds, identifying a list of four finalists after the first round and naming Vkursi Zemli the winner in the second. Each finalist presented their innovation during the conference’s Innovation Showcase.

For more about SID-W’s annual Innovation Contest, including guidelines and scoring criteria, visit www.sidwconference.org/innovation-contest.

Submitted as part of the contest application package, the video above describes the Vkursi Zemli platform.