This week, a relatively unknown brand made its way to the top of the download rankings on Apple's App Store for iPhones and iPads. An app from insurance and investment business Fedgroup beat out FNB, Discovery, Absa and Standard Bank to rise to the top in one of the most competitive business categories of the app world. It did so with a unique model, holding out the promise of extending "impact investment", which is designed to generate social and environmental benefit, along with financial returns, to the farming sector. Fedgroup calls it "impact farming", but in reality it is a combination of outsourced farming and crowdsourcing - a rare merging of cutting-edge business strategies. The company carefully vets each farmer, looking at "track records, existing contracts with suppliers and ability to scale up", and provides the platform for owners, farmers and buyers to come together. The investor comes in through the app, choosing to invest in a range of highly specific options, such ...

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