Today was a big day on the farm.
After months of planning, weeks of canvassing, days of agonizing over rewards, 13 hours of shooting and seemingly endless time spent editing our video and infographics, we are proud to launch the Tomato Jos Kickstarter campaign!
Now, we want to share with you why the Kickstarter campaign is important for the success of this company and for all the smallholder farmers who we work with.
#TeamTomatoJos is asking backers for $50,000 to enable us to acquire tomato paste processing equipment. Food processing is capital-intensive. In our video Shane points out that “tomato paste machines don’t exactly grow on trees,” and he’s right. We searched over the US, Europe, Asia and Africa before we found relatively cheap stainless steel equipment that could be used for small scale processing. The equipment we found is proudly Nigerian (just like our paste!), and it’s available for use this growing season! Not only does “buying local” align with our core values, but it also increases the lifespan of our investment. This equipment is optimized for use in Nigeria, and we will have easy access to spare parts and maintenance. Having owned foreign cars in Africa before, we have both learned how important it is to have access to local service providers and parts! #maintenancenightmare
The equipment that allows us to sort, wash, chop, peel, grind, evaporate, package and pasteurize our tomatoes costs $43,000 – we’re asking for $50,000 to cover transportation costs and the fees charged by Kickstarter and Amazon Payments.
Before launching this campaign, we thought long and hard about whether or not our story would be compelling enough for people like you to back to us. Kickstarter projects tend to be for products or services that are consumed in the US. Although we are offering pre-orders of tomato paste to our backers (who we’re guessing are mostly American or European), when we scale our business, our product will be produced primarily for the Nigerian market. This makes us different not just from projects like the “coolest” but also from other social enterprises and farming projects that create products in developing markets for export to the developed world. However, as Mira says, “we’re not selling tomato paste – we’re selling a vision.” We are confident that Tomato Jos is a social enterprise that many people can get behind - in the US, Nigeria and everywhere in between. After all, tomatoes are popular all over the world. Who DOESN’T want to cook with all-natural, delicious tomato paste?
We hope that we have compelled you to support us in this campaign. And if you have already supported us, thanks a million - well, actually thanks a fifty-grand!