Maximising the value of African agricultural commodities inputs, financing and market access

London, Mauritius, Uganda, 26 March 2018. FinComEco Limited (FinComEco), the fully integrated Financial and Commodities Ecosystem fostering financial inclusion with social responsibility throughout the agricultural value chain and Block Commodities Limited (BLCC), the innovative commodity trader operating in Africa, previously known as African Potash, are pleased to announce they have entered into a strategic partnership with Wala, a blockchain-powered financial services platform, and Dala, a cryptocurrency token issuer that will support the operation and further development of scalable, blockchain-enabled financial platforms for developing markets.

The agreement complements the BLCC’s Joint Venture with FinComEco, a subsidiary of GMEX Group Limited, announced last November, whereby Block Commodities, FinComEco, Wala and Dala, will be working together to develop and operate a web-enabled platform using the blockchain ledger for its agricultural commodity trading initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, this collaboration agreement establishes a relationship whereby Wala will support the use of the Dala utility token as the functional token for the food commodities cycle trading ecosystem which is currently being established by BLCC and its partner, FinComEco.

Under the agreement terms, the BLCC and FinComEco Joint Venture will provide the equivalent of $10M (US) in Dala token loans to approximately 50,000 smallholder farmers to purchase fertilizer across Sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Uganda and then extending to Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Republic of Congo (ROC). Wala will support BLCC and FinComEco with software solutions and integration into Wala’s financial platform and the Dala ecosystem.

The collaboration aims to integrate the BLCC trading business and the FinComEco agricultural commodities ecosystem through the deployment of blockchain to maximise the value of African agricultural commodities to smallholder farmers.

Chairman of GMEX Group and CEO of FinComEco, Hirander Misra commented, “This partnership will drive financial inclusion across Sub-Saharan African countries by providing smallholder farmers with cheaper access to finance and inputs (pesticides, fertilisers and seeds), which will result in an increase in agricultural output. He added, “This combined with electronic warehouse receipts financing and easier access to markets through the FinComEco commodity exchanges will ensure better price transparency enabled by Blockchain technology therefore increasing individual incomes and national GDP.”

Block Commodities Executive Chairman, Chris Cleverly, said “This collaboration represents a potentially significant reset for finance and commodities market development in Africa, a problem that is being addressed by bold and innovative technologies and partnerships.” He added, “We are helping to empower African farmers through loans to purchase fertilizer and have better access to markets”.

Wala Founder and CEO and Dala Director, Tricia Martinez, said “This is an industry changing partnership that will drive much needed economic growth and financial inclusion in African markets. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency have the potential to start financial innovation in these markets and Dala is at the forefront.” Adding, “We are very pleased to work with Block Commodities and FinComEco to provide the necessary tools and resources for these farmers and markets.”

The Block Commodities and Wala/Dala joint venture will be initially piloted in Uganda before being rolled out across Sub-Saharan Africa. The local Ugandan community has been instrumental in testing Wala prototypes and demonstrating that digital technology can be used to effectively remove key barriers to the adoption of financial services by the underbanked and underserved: access, cost and embedded economic incentives.

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For further information, please contact:

Melanie Budden
The Realization Group
+44 (0)7974 937 970

Block Commodities Limited
Chris Cleverly
+44 (0) 20 7408 9200

About FinComEco

FinComEco, the financial and commodities ecosystem is fostering financial inclusion with social responsibility in collaboration with local stake-holders, development organisations, governments and the private sector with the aim of improving food security and economic diversity.

FinComEco has developed a business model, which will, where the ecosystem warrants, be deployed together with financing models designed by its African partners and approved by requisite Central Banks, to solve credit and financing issues that affect small-scale farmers throughout Africa. The linkage of the trading platform to a financing mechanism is a very important part of the FinComEco offering. The initiative looks beyond the typical exchange objectives of reducing costs and increasing transparency as well as focusing on a desperately needed, effective electronic warehouse receipt system. As part of the wider FinComEco model, enabled by scalable technology supported by its partner GMEX Group, FinComEco will work with, local and international partners to facilitate private and development finance funding for the Agri finance initiatives, as appropriate.

The new electronic commodities exchange solution is establishing and reinvigorating local spot exchanges and enabling trade across multiple regions with a focus on the agricultural sector to create a holistic secure financial system.

It includes:

  • Price discovery and transparency
  • Electronic warehouse receipts
  • Trade finance and micro lending facilitation as a distribution hub
  • Risk management and hedging
  • Integrated Electronic banking and payments platform
  • Standards framework
  • Traceability and tracking enablement
  • Capacity building and education
  • Operational and technology consultancy
  • Working with trusted local partners

Operational objectives include:

  • Maximising the earnings potential for smallholder farmers
  • Supporting smallholder farmers to thrive enabled with best of breed-of-technology and inputs (including seeds, fertilisers and pesticides), coupled with a unique Agri-finance business model to solve credit and financing issues.
  • Leveraging as well as enhancing current logistics, warehousing and standards to establish a fully vitalised agricultural ecosystem efficiently linking supply to demand.

FinComEco has proven its concept in Malawi at the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) through GMEX Group and is establishing fully regulated market places in other African countries and South-East Asia.

Current shareholders include GMEX Group Limited, Saescada Limited and Houghton Street Capital Limited as well as individuals.

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FinComEco is a subsidiary of GMEX Group, an innovative provder of exchange and post trade business services and technology.

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About Block Commodities

Maximising commodities ecosystem with blockchain technology

Block Commodities’ strategy is to maximise the value of African agricultural and other commodities through the deployment of blockchain technology. The resources will be linked through the vertical integration of primary industries down to consumers via blockchain platforms. Using blockchain’s ability to dynamically incorporate all market participants into an efficient ecosystem, Block Commodities aims to facilitate the commercial operation of such ecosystems in the context of the agricultural production cycle.

In reclaiming the value lost in African agricultural and extractive industries through inefficient supply and distribution systems, Block Commodities will help African farmers raise productivity and secure better returns for produce. This is an important step in establishing African communities as significant future global agricultural producers.

About Dala

To enable a zero-fee and borderless financial system for emerging market consumers, a new cryptographic token, Dala, was issued by the Dala Foundation. Dala is a general-purpose ERC-20 token that will support the operationalization and further development of scalable, blockchain-enabled financial platforms for developing markets around a common unit of account and microeconomic incentive structure to create strong network effects. Dala already has utility, through its launch partner Wala, within the Wala Financial Platform. The Dala ecosystem expands through partnerships across borders and financial services, enabling consumers and enterprises to transact, save, lend, and invest with Dala.

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About Wala

Wala, the launch partner of Dala, is a mobile financial services platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. Tackling financial exclusion, their mission is to close the gap between consumers and financial service providers in emerging markets. Wala works with specialist providers in each market they’re operational in, including banks, to offer a full suite of financial services like transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance. Partners benefit from the reach and low-cost access to previously unserviceable customers enabled by the Wala platform. The Wala Financial Platform provides access to transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance for the unbanked and underbanked. Wala works with best-of-breed specialist providers in each market they operation in, including banks, to offer a full suite of financial services. Wala will support this collaboration with software solutions and integrations into the Wala Financial Platform and the Dala ecosystem.

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