Fighting Poverty and Scarcity in Africa with Innovation and Collaboration

November 2020


Abuja, FCT, Nigeria





About Hello Tractor

Hello Tractor is a diversified agriculture-tech company focused on improving food and income security throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Typically, most buyers of compact tractors purchase those assets as an income-generating business opportunity. The Hello Tractor platform connects tractor owners to farmers offering a tractor rental through a digital app, making it easier and less risky for tractor owners to run their businesses while connecting smallholder farmers to machinery that lets them plant 40 times faster at one-third the cost. By cutting down on the labor that is typically associated with farming, Hello Tractor is making it easy and lucrative for all users. Founded in 2014, Hello Tractor has been referred to as Africa’s “Lyft for the farm” or “Uber of tractors,” reaching more than 500,000 smallholder African farmers.

OKRs Driving Innovation

With the mission of fighting poverty and scarcity in Africa’s remote rural communities, OKRs were a natural fit for the Hello Tractor team. The OKR methodology and framework keeps their purpose front and center, so employees can focus on meaningful priorities and understand how their work connects to the greater mission of the organization. 

“The strength of our team is its ability to adapt and innovate our business model without ever losing sight of our mission,’ says Jehiel Oliver, Founder & CEO of Hello Tractor.

From Spreadsheets to Software

Prior to using Koan, Hello Tractor was using Excel to track OKRs. As a young startup, this worked to get them off the ground, but they quickly realized that the process of using a shared spreadsheet was a bit opaque. After two OKR cycles, the management team received significant feedback from individual contributors that revealed a major collaboration disconnect. 

“Employees did not know how their objectives fit in with the overall company goals and direction,” says Folu Okunade, Chief Strategy Officer & Chief Operating Officer at Hello Tractor. “They also felt that it was more of a performance stick, rather than a way for everyone to focus on high-priority achievable goals that collectively move the company forward.”

In early 2020, Hello Tractor was preparing to embark on a significant growth phase, looking to expand their network across Africa and Asia in a notable way. With crucial OKRs on the horizon, the company turned to software to help manage these ambitious goals. 

Okunade spent months researching and piloting a competitive OKR tool, and notes, “I remained hesitant to pull the trigger due to the price tag, as well as the anticipated steep adoption curve for our distributed teams.” Since this tool ultimately didn’t meet their requirements, Okunade kept searching for other options, and it was then he discovered Koan. 

Koan was not only the most affordable option on the market, but also specialized in aligning distributed teams with a collaborative focus through Reflections. 

Finding Success with Collaboration

“At Hello Tractor, we believe in the words of Henry Ford, that “if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself,” says Oliver. 

The team at Hello Tractor values the importance of transparency and aims to provide customers with visibility throughout the entire service delivery process, from start to finish. With a shared value of transparency, it became clear that Koan was a natural fit for Hello Tractor. The simple Koan platform would provide visibility into the OKRs and key priorities that the team was striving to achieve. Since adopting software to manage OKRs, Hello Tractor has achieved visibility across the organization of core goals on a quarterly basis. 

Okunade notes “From the management team to the operational and technical teams, everyone can see clearly how their objectives align with the core company objectives. It has helped every employee understand the importance and criticality of the work they do!”

Remote Employees Stay Engaged and Aligned

Hello Tractor has also realized the importance of shared collaboration through Koan’s easy integration with other tools. The team has been able to cohesively and seamlessly integrate Koan with Slack and Jira to help track progress. 

Koan remains one of the tools in the Hello Tractor team’s arsenal to keep employees engaged and aligned while all working remotely. The team has found particular value in the Reflections feature, which allows members to reflect on their work weekly and for others on the team to understand what all people are working on and how it might relate to their own work. They’ve even incorporated the Reflections feature into the technology team's sprint retrospectives.

“As COVID-19 hit our operations pretty significantly, we had to re-think our objectives and pivot to more short term and achievable objectives to simply keep the lights on,” says Okunade. “Having a software tool enabled us to make this shift more quickly and keep the entire team focused on the right priorities.”

Consistent Innovation

As Hello Tractor began using Koan, the team also quickly noticed Koan’s customer-focused approach. Being a tech startup, the team greatly appreciated Koan’s efforts to improve their product for the end user, regularly requesting feedback from customers and seeking real-world workflows to use as inspiration for their product roadmap. 

As Chief Strategy Officer, Okunade took notice not only of Koan's authentic and human focused approach to Customer Success and Product Design, but also to Koan’s ability to rapidly execute these changes for the benefit of the end user. “The speed and regularity of updates are impressive. I appreciate the seemingly constant stream of new features! As a fellow startup, we can learn a lot from this,” says Okunade. This frequent innovation that Koan has been able to provide has strengthened Hello Tractor’s confidence in Koan, knowing that Koan will always consider their feedback and will continue to exponentially enhance their OKR process and collaborative workflows. 

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