This article is written by Sarah Murray and was first published in the Financial Times. It has been edited for length.
In highlighting the barriers facing farmers in developing countries, especially women, Ashish Gadnis, a US entrepreneur, points to a flaw in the supply chain: the inability of smallholders to hold a record of transactions. Mr Gadnis says: "[No record] means she will never get good access to credit and she will be exposed to predatory lending; if she's able to sell the barley, her husband or son may steal the cash."
This is where technology comes in, and BanQu, Mr Gadnis's software company, is using blockchain to tackle the problems faced by people working in countries that suffer from a high level of poverty.
One example is Zambia, where BanQu has joined drinks company Anheuser-Busch InBev to give smallholder farmers a record — accessible by mobile phone — of all their sales to the company. This enables them to build a business history, which in turn lets them secure loans and win contracts.
Digital technology also allows corporate buyers and consumers to discover more about the sustainability and ethics of their purchases. It can trace anything from carbon emissions to labour standards.
Blockchain is just one of several technologies being used to transform the supply chain. Another is satellite imaging, which makes it possible, for example, to track deforestation — where land is being cleared for agriculture.
"We can build up a clear picture that makes it increasingly difficult to cover up illegal or poor practices," says Renat Heuberger, founding partner and chief executive of South Pole.
Mr Heuberger's company taps into a range of data to create tools that help make supply chains more transparent, reducing both the risks they pose and their effect on the environment. It allows companies, governments and others to understand and tackle climate change-related risks.
Read the full article here.