Hello Tractor, the startup launched by LaVandez (Van) T. Jones, ’14, addresses the pressing problem of inefficiency in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. The company develops and deploys low-cost smart tractors retrofitted with GPS antennae designed to work in areas with little or no internet penetration. Farmers can request tractors on demand; the smart-tractor owner drives to the farmer’s field, provides the needed service, and is paid on completion.
Jones’ startup won first place in the 2014 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge. By 2015, Hello Tractor had completed its first sales cycle for Nigeria, with approximately $6.5 million in the pipeline. It has since begun beta testing in Ghana. Through a $2 million partnership with USAID, 300 smart tractors were sold to Nigerian farmers, who also received training on the business of owning, maintaining, and promoting services for a fleet.