The Tagani Story: From college project to agri-tech startup

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What started as a college project at UP Los Baños has become one of the most sought-after agri-tech startups in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Tagani traces its roots as the Facebook Group AGRIBUSINESS and FARMING Philippines, created by Keb Cuevas in Mid-2015. The goal was to share the classroom knowledge from the point of view of an Agriculture student.

Until one day, a Facebook group member shared a story about food prostitution in a relocation site in Calauan, Laguna. Born and raised in an informal settlers area that was turned government housing project, Keb wanted to help the community.

Even without funds, Keb and their team started a women-centered project on agribusiness entrepreneurship called Amiga Philippines. They went to the community weekly. They also taught recordkeeping and product development to the Amiga group with 36 members. The project later won as first runner-up at the Enactus Philippines National Cup in 2016, received a TAYO Award in 2017, and became the Manila Social Good Summit Champion in 2017.

Tagani.ph

While a full-time Rappler community manager, Keb rebranded Amiga Philippines and renamed the Facebook page and online community to Tagani. The name was derived from the word “tag-ani” or “harvest time” in Filipino. They bought the domain and launched the website www.tagani.ph on March 2018.

In May 2018, Keb posted a position hiring co-founders on the Facebook group Startup PH, where they met Yvonne Manalo, who was then working at Taxumo as its Head of Business and Partnerships. Both children of former farmers, they wanted to help struggling agribusiness entrepreneurs towards long-term success. Building upon what Amiga started, they wanted to create a digital farm management software but lacked a technical co-founder. They filed for incorporation during the same month.

In October 2018, Keb was inducted as a YSEALI Academic Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. He did his short-term residency at Brown University with virtual classes at University for Peace. The outcome of the program was the business plan of Tagani.ph. Before Keb flew to the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued their Certificate of Incorporation. Keb was then invited by the National Youth Commission to represent the Philippines at the ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in December 2018.

In January 2019, Keb went full-time with Tagani. Their first product was training programs for aspiring agribusiness entrepreneurs. In February 2019, Tagani gained social media popularity for exposing the oversupply situations of vegetables in various parts of the country. It focused its operations as a digital farmer’s market in partnership with farmer’s associations. Tagani was featured in several news outlets and was invited by GoNegosyo during its Young Entrepreneurs Summit.

In June 2019, Tagani launched its first self-hosted workshops on agribusiness management and hydroponics in partnership with the Philippine Trade Training Center until the lockdown in March 2020. During the same month, Tagani was named by e27.co as one of the Top 100 startups in the Asia Pacific representing the Philippines. It was also named as one of the most sought-after agri-tech startups in the Asia Pacific.

In March 2020, the company launched the campaign to support farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic supported by two Thai actors Bright Vachirawit and Win Metawin. In August 2020, the company created open-source design toolkits for public markets to observe public protocols during the pandemic. They also became part of the Asian Institute of Management’s Dado Banatao Incubator.

Tagani.org

In January 2021, it dropped the “.ph” from the brand and temporarily stopped the digital farmer’s market operations to focus on its first aimed digital farm management business. GrowAsia then named it an emerging agri-tech business model in Southeast Asia.

In March 2021, the company launched a digital map of all community pantries in the Philippines. In May 2021, Tagani was awarded a women social entrepreneurs fellowship from Ashoka. — Tagani.org

 

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