Farmers across the island who have been complaining about being unable to reach markets due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 now have a global platform called OEXONE that they can join to upload and list their crop outputs, take orders and receive payments directly to their bank accounts from buyers around the world.
The OEXONE platform facilitates diaspora trade, commerce, and investment opportunities. Its key features are market-driven network capacity, driving consensus, and addressing gaps that will enable shared business processes and optimise contractual transactions from simple purchase-to-pay (P2P) operations to enterprise business-to-business (B2B) transactions.
The OEXONE platform was established as a non-denominational, non-biased regional platform for trade, investments, marketing, value-chain capacity building and payment services that handle local, cross-border import and export transactions.
OEXONE also offers access to a brokerage firm for export items to be taken by farmers, which handles the various processes such as packing and logistics.
Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Robert Kibo Thompson, is the mastermind behind OEXONE, which was launched on July 15 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Downtown, Kingston.
Mr. Thompson, a marketer by trade, says he strongly believes Jamaica has the potential to produce more and export more.
In keeping with that, he knew one of the roles he could play was creating a new technology-driven platform to which Jamaican farmers can connect and access buyers across the world, and that he did.
“When I realised how many imports were coming into Jamaica, in particular the fresh produce side, and that we could have produced most of these goods here and turned around and export them as well, and also the fact that there’s a small number of producers and manufacturers that actually have access to markets… I registered OEXONE with a mandate to create a platform that gives global access to markets with an efficient process in place,” Mr. Thompson stated.
He says since the launch last month, local farmers have been responding positively to OEXONE and almost 600 farmers have already signed on.
“We’re getting sign-ups every day and we find that the younger farmers are coming on board because the younger farmers know and see that there’s an opportunity in food, and food security is very critical… . They are looking at how technology can give them better leverage to greater market access,” he says.
Mr. Thompson, who has been an exporter for years,adds that this concept first came to mind 10 years ago when he started exploring with different markets.
“I used to design labels for other processors and manufacturers and I got exposed while those clients were growing and increasing their actual products. I realised that they were looking to export more, so that’s when I got involved in the sauces, and in terms of understanding, from an economical perspective, if we are to grow, we would outgrow our local space, but not outgrow an international space,” he argues.
“Hence when I looked at technology, commerce, how Amazon was growing, how eBay was growing, how these e-commerce platforms that exist around the world kept on growing and growing, then I decided to get involved in it, as I built websites for people,” he says.
As a result of COVID-19, the multiple benefits of OEXONE are easily being realised by those who use it.
“COVID kind of exposed the reality of it all. We need to look externally and we understand now that there is a food security issue… hence the application of OEXONE within the market space, the application of easy access to e-commerce,” Mr. Thompson notes.
Another major benefit of the platform is that foreign buyers can outline to farmers what they need, and farmers can plant to meet that demand and export the crops immediately after reaping them.
Mr. Thompson says his dream is to see more Jamaicans getting involved in the export market.
“That’s our goal – more people involved I export, making it easy for trade to happen, and as our tagline says, ‘We Make Trade Easy’,” he explains.
International Trade Specialist, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Daenia Ashpole, says the Ministry has endorsed this initiative, and describes the OEXONE platform as revolutionary for Jamaican farmers and built like the stock market for trading.
She notes that it is timely, as it is being launched during the pandemic when there is a push for limited physical interaction. Both buyer and farmer can simply log into the platform to make orders and list agricultural produce for sale.
“I must commend the developer, Mr. Thompson, a son of the Caribbean soil who, through his wealth of knowledge and experience in marketing,agro processing, manufacturing, finance, among others, decided to create this platform to transform agricultural commodities’ trading in the Caribbean and Latin America,” Ms. Ashpole says.
Ashpole highlighted that the platform’s objective of driving commodity trading across the diaspora will further position Jamaica to become the regional leader in not just the production of the most exquisite and flavourful fresh produce and other agricultural crops but also to leverage Jamaica’s unique position of having the best tasting produce.
“The marketing and trading facilities provided by OEXONE host several features that will advance the push for increased agricultural production and agribusiness networking,” she points out.
Persons interested in signing up for OEXONE, either as a farmer or purchaser, can access the platform by going to the website https://oexone.com/or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 876-839-0954 or 876-464-5920.