The Innovators

Jehiel Oliver


For plowing an agricultural revolution.

Jehiel Oliver

Nigeria has enough arable land to fill the U.S. state of Texas. What the country doesn’t have are the tools to cultivate it. That’s why Jehiel Oliver developed a minitractor that farmers can rent by the day. Oliver’s contraption, which looks like an elongated rototiller and sells for $4,000, uses GPS and mobile phone technology to match tractor owners with customers and to monitor the need for maintenance. The service rental helps farmers perform up to 40 times more daily labor than they otherwise could. The idea won South by Southwest’s Global Innovation Challenge this year. So far, Oliver’s business, Hello Tractor, is on pace to sell 1,000 units and raised more than $3 million in seed money. (Photo courtesy of Jehiel Oliver)

Oliver grew up on food stamps but eventually became a corporate banker on Wall Street.

He told NPR: “A typical entry-level tractor in Nigeria is 55 horsepower. Ours is 15. [The] 55-horsepower tractor [costs] around $40,000. [Hello Tractor] is $4,000.”

Clarification, Dec. 12, 2016: Oliver’s company is on pace to sell 1,000 units.