David Kamau Biaru was working in a company that involved cooperative societies when he noticed a gap. Every time he attended their meetings, the cooperative societies would hold winding discussions on how difficult it was for them to manage data.
Even though they had computers, they would still spend hours poring through individual files to find specific information; a process they described as time-consuming and frustrating.
Other members who could not figure out how to key in the information would instead go back to old files and manually enter data, despite pressure from stakeholders that they needed to go digital.
In 2015, Bairu, a computer technology graduate decided to create a software that would consolidate information on individual cooperatives, and have them ready at a click of a button.
The software named ‘DairyWorks’ allows for automation of the cooperatives’ operations, and saves them in departmental modules such as: registration, milk collection, finances, creditors, Human resource and other details. So far, 29 cooperatives have taken up the software. The uptake has mostly been from dairy and coffee cooperative societies, but he says he plans to venture into other sectors once he gets sufficient funding to employ more people who can help in training and installation once a company takes up the software.
Goodbye manual system
On how the software works, Bairu says interested cooperatives call him and he does a presentation on how to smoothly transition from manual to digital space. During his training, he talks to managers and administrators, most of whom later relay the information to other employees. He is quick to add that there are many instances where he meets managers who are not conversant with basic computer knowledge, and he has to start from scratch.
“There are cases where you have to teach them how to hold a mouse, click on documents, before you start telling them how the software works,” he says.
Other challenges he has faced include getting cooperatives that are willing to cough up a chunk of their operational budget to go on a software.
“Most want to pay in small instalments, and since I have other employees, it becomes difficult to expand as fast as we would have hoped,” he says.
Despite the challenges, he is optimistic of the future of software development, and how such innovations can change operations, not only in farming. He hopes that in a few years, he would have reached the more than 600 dairy cooperative societies in the country.
He envisions a situation where no farmer will be forced to wait for pay for long — as has been the case in recent times — when cooperatives spend days poring over records to set up a payment plan. He believes through the use of the software; cooperatives will cut down on losses that they often incur when they erratically tabulate manual data.