The Japanese word that's inspiring equal access and opportunities for innovation - evokeAG.

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The Japanese word that's inspiring equal access and opportunities for innovation

Sam Lambert went from starting a new graduate job in global consulting in March 2020, excitedly unwrapping a new work phone and laptop, (like Christmas for adults, he recalls) to completely changing his career direction when lockdown sparked endless hours of curious contemplation.

Sam Lambert

Sam Lambert, 26 was a 2024 evokeAG. Future Young Leader, and Co-Founder, zenGate Global, a technology company seeking to provide equal access and opportunities for innovation in agriculture.

I spent much of lockdown talking to my 89-year-old grandmother in Japan. She would say, ‘Ganbatte’…[in Japanese translating to  ‘give it you all’]  And so I did. I gave it my all.

Saying goodbye to my corporate life in Sydney in early-2022, I jetted off to start a new one in Japan. I had two priorities;

  1. Build solutions for underserved commodity producers – micro, small, and medium-sized businesses that face difficulties accessing markets and adopting new technologies.
  2. Spend loads of time with my grandma and buy her nice food.

Let me tell you how I got there.

During the Covid periods, many primary producers faced enormous hardships and challenges and the legacy ways of conducting business were no longer holding up. For some this meant they could quickly and rapidly evolve into becoming digital hybrids. But many were left behind.

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I became fascinated and fixated in understanding what the problems were. And it turned out there were quite a lot of them, and many of them were interlinked, forming a complex web. I got to work.

Before I knew it, I found myself back at the drawing board; square one, in my tiny, tiny, tiny apartment in Japan.

Palmyra connecting producers and buyers globally

The more producers I spoke to in places like Sri Lanka, the problems started to become clearer.

Firstly, the ability to access new markets. Secondly, the ability to tap into finance. And third and finally, the ability to adopt new technologies.

Sam Lambert

My co-founders and I at zenGate Global view these as core foundational pillars of growth. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by a team of people that were equally passionate about these problems.

I kept seeing the same thing come up repeatedly. It’s a bit of a buzzword, but here it is anyway – supply chain resilience. This for many practically translates into, from a producer’s point of view, having a much broader range of buyers that they can sell to, or vice versa. Buyers having greater optionality and access to the way that they supply.

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And this is why my company’s priority was launching the Palmyra platform, a B2B matchmaking and market access solution that directly connects producers with buyers all around the world.

We started off in Sri Lanka in early-2023. We’re now in the process of onboarding producers from Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Indonesia, and hopefully, Australia next.

Money talks, but predatory loans can’t be silenced

The second biggest challenge was the lack of access to finance.

The demand to borrow by producers far exceeded what was available, especially by more reliable sources of capital, such as banks or development institutes.

As a result, many primary producers in regions I’ve worked in were left in in precarious situations, such as predatory loans paying incredibly high interest rates.

If producers could get access to capital, what would it mean? For starters, they could grow their businesses faster. But they could also manage spikes in cash flows, especially around large spending periods, such as harvesting, or buying inputs like fertilisers.

RELATED: Tickets on sale now for evokeAG. 2025 in Brisbane

Building bridges between high quality producers and lenders is a key initiative of mine on the Palmyra platform. We believe that through greater data capture, and data transparency, we can transform the way lenders assess risk, but ultimately tap into new lending opportunities.

Not a matter of if we will implement, but when

The third and final challenge we came across was the lag in adoption of new technologies.

Barriers to exponential technologies are as low as they’ve ever been, presenting an enormous opportunity for our primary producers to leapfrog.

A great example of this is traceability. Over the past couple of years, consumers are demanding greater transparency and traceability into our global supply chains. They want to know, is this sustainable? Is it certified? Is it organic? And even more personal; who produced it?

Sam Lambert

Some of the largest import markets around the world are beginning to regulate this. We’ve seen the European Union’s deforestation reporting already take place. Not implementing this technology might mean our primary producers lose access to some of these crucial markets. If we don’t start today, it’s too late.

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Building traceability solutions has become a core embedded focus and feature of the Palmyra platform.

We’ve developed it, we’re in the process of open sourcing it, and all users get access to it. Not only is it a way to stay compliant, but a way for our producers to tell their unique stories to buyers all around the world.

Grandma knows best

These days I’m based in Japan. I lead a team of nearly 20 who are equally passionate and committed to solving these global problems.

But I’m also closer to home and my grandma. I call her on my way to work. In the evenings as I walk to the station. And she tells me to slow down and take in the big picture.

That’s what we’re doing at zenGate Global.

We’re doing our best, empowering our producers to tap into new markets, access finance, and adopt new technologies.

As an Aussie back on home soil today, I feel like we aren’t fully taking on my grandmother’s advice yet –“Ganbatte”… There’s still so much more we can do to share our innovations with primary producers all around the world. Equally important is bringing innovations back home.

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My ask is whether you’re a producer, a buyer, a trader, financier regulator, join us and come on board as a Palmyra pioneer and let’s redefine the way commodities are traded.

“Ganbatte” is not just a Japanese word. It’s a sentiment. It’s a mindset of giving your best and driving your own impact. With the right tools, resources, our primary producers and communities can drive their own impact, an impact bigger than just ours.

Sam Lambert was part of the 2024 Future Young Leaders program that saw five emerging leaders in agrifood, innovation and related industries build their capabilities, skills, confidence and networks, to ultimately present their key message, innovations or research project on an AgriFutures evokeAG. 2024 stage. Learn more about the Palmyra platform here or contact Sam at [email protected]


Tickets are now on sale for evokeAG. 2025 to be held on 18-19 February 2025 in Brisbane, Queensland. Following a sell-out event in 2024 we are encouraging delegates to secure their tickets, flights and accommodation early.

We look forward to seeing you in Brisbane for evokeAG. 2025. In the meantime, catch up on the other conversations about sustainability, climate resilience and the role of agtech in meeting those challenges from here.

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