NoSQL Database Helping Millions of African Cashew Farmers
by Oren Eini
For over a year, the African financial system has been sitting on $1 billion to invest in the cashew market. It's a good investment. Africa is home to 57% of the world's cashews. As new products come to market like cashew milk, cashew cheese, and other cashew-based snacks, this $4 billion industry is poised to expand at a double-digit growth rate over the next decade, much like it grew 16% in 2018.
There are 4 million cashew farmers in Africa who feed their families by harvesting cashews.
But the lion's share of the profit goes elsewhere.
90% of cashews are shipped to Asia to be processed and resold at a markup to the major snack vendors in North America and Europe, leaving the African farmer with just a small piece of the pie made possible from his own crop.
Inadequate due diligence, lack of sufficient quality controls, and non-existing documentation have kept the African and global financial system from lending money to build processing factories in the same African countries where these crops are harvested. Lack of proper tracking of cashews disrupts the liquidity flows necessary to give the farmers the financial means they need to expand their farms.
An effective monitoring system can be put in place to confirm the quality of African cashews, which can enable millions of Africans to prosperity.
We at RavenDB are so excited about this opportunity. We gave the people responsible for this project free instances and support for RavenDB.
The Cumbersome Chain in Cashew Commerce
Jeremy Holt, CEO of Amberwood Trading, has been in the cashew business for over a decade. He is also a self-taught programmer. RavenDB was so easy for him to use; he taught himself using ravendb.net learning resources.
Newly versed in application development, he decided to modernize his local industry to help farmers enjoy a better life by digitalizing both the cashew markets and the financing process for building cashew processing plants in Africa.
He is using RavenDB to creating a control system for every stage in each transaction that creates trust between buyers and sellers by giving full transparency to every document needed for a cashew sale.
Amberwood's main application allows the seller and the buyer of a cashew transaction to both see, at the same time, the status of goods as the exporter takes possession of the cashews from the farmer.
The current procedure for exporting cashews is complicated. It starts with an independent inspector checking the quality of the cashews and confirming it going into stock at the warehouse.
For every container that goes for export, you need at least another 15 different documents from the ministry of agriculture, chamber of commerce, inspection agencies, freight forwarding agencies, DHL, and other offices. Each document has to be confirmed by the buyer until a bill of lading can be issued, and the produce goes to export.
It's a complex process of emails going back and forth, finding officials from varying offices to sign a form, checking this, and okaying that. Then there is the: Did he approve this? Did he sign the right document? Did he know what he was signing? And the dreaded: Something is missing here.
This can slow down and even stall the average cashew transaction.
How Amberwood Applications Solve the Problem
Amberwood's application puts everything on one screen, letting the buyer and the seller know at all times what documents were signed, which haven't, where each document is at the current moment, and which papers are still pending other actions. At every moment, every party in the deal has access to digital copies of all documents, signed, unsigned, with their status.
They can be seen on any device, computer, tablet, or mobile phone. A banker can see everything at his desk. The inspector can see what he needs on his portable tablet, and the dockworker can confirm all is in order on his mobile phone as he pulls anchor and sails away.
This cuts three weeks of the time it takes for the farmer to sell his crop, the exporter to get paid, and wholesalers and retailers to purchase more cashews, adding liquidity to every step in the supply chain.
NoSQL Database Features That Make it Happen
An application that focuses on traversing government and business documents is a perfect fit for a document NoSQL database. The data is received the same way it's prepared in the physical forms. RavenDB uses JSON objects which mirror the abstract objects application programming languages use to move data to and from their database.
Information moves smooth as silk from end to end.
Cashew growers are located throughout West Africa. Processors are in Vietnam. Wholesalers and retailers are monitoring their supply chain throughout North America and Europe. Exporters are at every location.
This logistic operation requires a distributed database that works fast to make sure all points in the process see the entire picture at the same time. Amberwood developed this application to target the lack of consistent information made available to all parties involved, so top-level data integrity is a high priority. RavenDB is among the few document databases that are fully transactional (ACID) over multiple documents and across your entire database cluster.
RavenDB Cloud lets you set up instances anywhere on earth, providing minimal latency to any user at any location. Its automatic failover features give you over 99.99% availability. Worst-case scenarios happen when 1,000 tons of cashews load onto a cargo ship, but 30 minutes before the ship sails, an inspector realizes a single document is missing.
You need to have everything ready at your fingertips to confirm the document is there or to quickly contact the relevant official, have her sign the document, and upload it onto the application. RavenDB enables Amberwood's application to do just that.
But what about storing these files? Don't databases typically store words and numbers?
RavenDB has a special attachments feature that lets you attach all these physical documents in pdf, doc, xls, or almost any file type form while maintaining the highest performance levels. RavenDB treats image files like standard data and process them accordingly. Buyers, sellers, bankers, lawyers, and inspectors have immediate 24/7 access to everything they need.
What Amberwood Trading loves the most about RavenDB is that they don't even notice it. They set everything up using RavenDB's simple setup wizard which got them up and running in 10 minutes. They were able to model their data to the document form using our online learning, boot camp, training videos, and documentation.
Since they threw the switch on their app, RavenDB just works. They can focus on improving how they serve the dreams of the good farmers of Africa without having to divert any of their resources to babysitting a database.
This was especially helpful for CEO and Chief Developer Jeremy Holt. The top developers for RavenDB are always on call to help out with issues. It meant a lot to Jeremy to have people ready at a moment's notice to fix any issues.
Another feature Jeremy loved was support. All his questions were answered quickly and to his specific needs. He was pleasantly surprised to see on several occasions his queries answered by our CEO, Oren Eini.
Amberwood Trading is changing the world by lifting millions of farmers in Africa into prosperity and enabling them to enjoy the fruits of their labor. We at RavenDB are proud to be a part of it. See for yourself! Schedule a live demo of what RavenDB can do for your application.