My guest today is Kevin Leyton-Brown, he is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia.

Kevin’s work involves not only computer science topics such as artificial intelligence, but also game theory, and the intersection between the two. Our topic for today is an app that Kevin co-founded called Kudu, which uses double auctions to help Ugandan farmers trade more effectively.

Kevin was interested in using his skills to help people in the developing world, so during a sabbatical seven years ago, he resolved to go to a country in sub-Saharan Africa to do just that. He settled on Uganda and, after living there for a time, noticed something peculiar about the market for agricultural goods there. In the city, you would sometimes find vendors selling goods at very high prices, and even running out. Meanwhile, in the countryside, vendors would have so much stock they would be selling at extremely low prices, even rotting before they could be sold.

Kevin, along with his partners John Quinn and Richard Ssekibuule, set out to help the locals seize these apparent arbitrage opportunities by constructing a platform to allow buyers and sellers in these markets to trade with one another at competitive prices. Most Ugandans have cell phones. Not fancy smartphones (as I wrongly guessed) but basic flip phones. So Kevin and his partners decided to set up a platform by which people could make bids and asks using a basic text-message system, and that system turned into Kudu.

The platform has facilitated $1.5 million USD worth of confirmed trades, and it has made the prices of agricultural goods much more transparent for everyone trading in these markets.

See More See Less


Leave us a review, comment or subscribe!

Meet the hosts


  • I wasn’t real sure where to put this, but I was curious if there are any Digital Nomads in the community. I’d love to hear your story. What do you do? How did you get started? Where have you been past, present and future?

    Jump to Discussion Post 5 replies
  • Cryptocurrency Opportunists Investors and early adopters of cryptocurrency recognize the inevitable revolutionary change awaiting society and the huge income opportunity before them as they prepare to capitalize on the mainstream public adoption of this new technology trend in the next 24 to 36 months. The purpose of this whitepaper is to bring clarity to the marketplace to help investors and early adopters recognize where real value and opportunities lie. – Bob Wood , CEO, Nexxus Partners

    Jump to Discussion Post 0 replies
  • What are you growing in your garden this years? Do you have any photos to share? As of this writing my wife and I have English and snap peas, lettuce, carrots, radishes, and leeks going from seed. We have kale still going from last fall that we over wintered and our seedlings for the remainder of our crops are about ready to transplant.

    Jump to Discussion Post 11 replies
  • What does everyone think of the alarmists worrying about massive human unemployment resulting form the rise of artificial intelligences?  Case in point:  C.G.P. Grey.  It seems technology usually improves our lives.

    Jump to Discussion Post 5 replies
  • I’m reading Robb Wolf’s book “The Paleo Solution” and he stated that our distant ancestors actually had a lot of leisure time. Food & shelter took up 10-15% of their time. It seems sleep took up a good deal (say 30-40%). That leaves 45-60% of the time for “leisure.” I was taught in school (which alone makes this doubtful) that the agricultural revolution was what unlocked societal development, and allowed us to make strides in scientific advances like writing, mathematics, and so forth. Does anyone know of sources on this topic? I guess I’m wondering if there are any alternative hypotheses on this? It seems, right now, that agriculture was the single worst thing to happen to individual people, while it was the best for “society.” But that doesn’t sit well. Any help, or thoughts, on this issue are most welcome.

    Jump to Discussion Post 1 reply