Launching into Space: using Satellite Iimagery in Financial Services

Case Study on Apollo Agriculture and Harvesting Inc

Thanks to mobile technologies, Kenyans have access to an increasing array of digital financial services, including micro-insurance products and pay-as-you-go solar energy solutions. Despite these advances, however, smallholder farmers in rural Kenya, who account for 70% of the country’s agricultural production, still lack access to affordable credit.

To help close the credit gap for farmers, innovative FinTech companies are testing whether earth observation data (i.e., imagery from earth observation satellites) can be converted into data that financial service providers can use in credit scoring models that assess a farmers’ creditworthiness. Indeed, earth observation satellites, especially in rural areas, capture data that traditional means cannot—farm crop yields, mapping of crops, geotagging farmland to specific farmers, farm diversification, planting cycles, and trends in production—and that can help forecast revenues, potential repayment deficits, and timing of income. While still nascent, emerging evidence indicates that using satellite data can reduce the transactional costs of reaching rural farmers and, ultimately, make finance more affordable for smallholder farmers.

This case study will explore the use of satellite imagery in financial services through the work of two FinTech organizations: Apollo Agriculture and Harvesting Inc. Specifically, this case study investigates how these organizations implemented earth observation technology and the journeys on which each organization embarked as they integrated satellite imagery into their business models and product offerings.

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