Abalobi is a social enterprise based in South Africa with global applicability, which is building equitable, sustainable and climate-smart small-scale fisheries, powered by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). These "ICT4Fisheries" enable inclusive, human rights-based and integrated fisheries governance “from hook to cook,” empowering previously excluded fishers and communities.
Abalobi services include a fully traceable marketplace for seafood with a "story," fisher-to-fisher mentoring, system-hosting, digital financial inclusion services, data-driven and transdisciplinary science, Safety-at-Sea, Climate Change adaptation, capacity building and partnership driven support program. Uptake of the technology happens through the co-design process, and a grassroots but global advocacy movement by fishers using Abalobi. They want to develop sustainable fisheries using transformative processes, innovative technology, value chain upgrading, supported by a traditional fishers’ knowledge base.
THE Problem and Solution
The 50 million small-scale fishers globally, face two main challenges: 1) inability to sell their products at a fair market price due to disempowering and limiting distribution channels, and 2) limited access to financial services due to “thin-file” credit profiles, which are the result of operating in a cash and informal loan economy. Abalobi, as a fisher-driven mobile app suite, offers a traceable solution to fishers and other stakeholders in the fisheries’ value chain. It gives fishers the ability to harness the power of mobile technology and data in order to set fair selling prices via a marketplace and access a verified, digital income stream.
This solution has paved the way to co-develop simple and relevant financial services such as loans, savings and insurance for fishers, securing their livelihoods and families. Abalobi is currently operating along the western and southern coastline of South Africa, and will soon scale to other coastal areas in Africa and the Indian Ocean.
- Offers an integrated catch management system for small-scale fisheries as a one-stop shop.
- App suite consists of five inter-connected apps, which cover a full spectrum of stakeholders in the small-scale fisheries sector (fishermen, cooperatives, regulatory, restaurants, eaters).
- Stakeholders, including fishermen themselves, co-design solutions and co-research based on input and real-life contexts.
- Fishermen are able to set market price for their selling items and have access to formal financial services by showing digital footprint.
The Value Proposition
- The smartphone app logs data on fish catches and related expenses, thereby accurately calculating and recording income.
- Fishermen can leverage the marketplace to securely trade with buyers.
- The app gives fishermen the data needed to empower themselves and be able to show financial service providers that they are appropriate consumers of financial products.
- Abalobi promotes sustainable and inclusive fishery ecosystems.
THE LEARNING AGENDA
Abalobi is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:
- Limiting Factors: How can Abalobi overcome behavioral barriers, such as trust and illiteracy, to encourage uptake among fishermen and usage of the app?
- Ecosystems & Partnerships: How can community-embedded fintech companies, like Abalobi, successfully offer codesigned financial services in complex ecosystems (for fishers via cooperatives)?