Agriculture is the biggest source of employment and livelihood for the African continent and forms a significant portion of the economies. This is qualified by the fact that 60% of the Sub-saharan population are smallholder farmers and 23% of the sub-Saharan GDP comes from agriculture alone, according to a recent McKinsey study. Additionally, this sector contributes to major continent priorities such as poverty and hunger eradication.
When it comes to agritech, startups outside Africa have been more successful in integrating more advanced technology. From employing cutting edge technologies to both products and services like drones, automated irrigation and other involved analytical tasks, startups like UK-based Rootwave and Hectare Agritech have managed to raise close to $10M. On the global spectrum, Industry Wired estimates $17 billion in investment capital raised by agritechs in 2019 as per various market reports.
In Africa, vanguard startups are using mobile applications to enhance agricultural digitization and take a significant step in achieving digital inclusion, profitability and resilience to climate change. Digest Africa data record 131 agritech startups that have raised $62M in a mixture of disclosed deals over time, although a vast majority of these have raised in grants and debt finance.
Below, we have highlighted 10 agriculture ventures that have scored a total of $29M in venture funding across 17 rounds as the most funded in Africa. Majority raised in Seed rounds ($12.08M raised in 12 of the 17 rounds). However, the highest amount was among the Series A rounds ($16.7M raised in 4 rounds.) WeFarm and Thrive Agric both have both raised in the most number of rounds (3 rounds each.) The rest raised in two or fewer rounds.
Out of the group, Livestock Trade Services, Cowtribe and Birdpreneur are livestock-based, AgroCenta, Green Path are plant-based while Sidai Africa Ltd and Thrive Agric are based on both livestock and plants. Another key takeaway is that many of these startups are focused on the input and production phases of the value chain, offering both agro-based products and services to farmers as well as digital financial and Agri advisory services to help smooth the process till delivery to the markets.
This 5-year old company has raised funding to the tune of $19.6M across three rounds, the most recent being $13M Series A with Silicon Valley’s True Ventures as the lead investor and LocalGlobe, Norrsken Foundation and Accelerated Digital Ventures as other notable investors. WeFarm also has partnerships with Heifer International and Pret A Manager.
Sidai Africa Ltd ($4M)
Across 2 venture rounds, Sidai has raised $3.97M with the latest being a $1.5M Series A led by Devenish Investment. Other notable investors are AHL Venture Partners and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The startup manufactures 16 of its own branded livestock products that it dispatches to suppliers, franchisees and stockists that it partners with. Sidai was founded in 2011 by social entrepreneur Christie Peacock.
Livestock Trade Services ($1.2M)
Consonance Investment Managers led a $1.2M Series A for agritech Livestock Trade Services. The startup operates principally in the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Penninsula and the Middle East Regions. Aside from providing quality livestock and meat, Livestock Trade also offers consultancy to support the livestock sector in its geographical areas of operation. Its subsidiary Agri-Secure International is establishing a Kenyan-based livestock fattening and finishing farm that will specialize in the production of high-quality feed and livestock for discerning importing markets.
Francis Obirikorang and Micheal K. Ocansey founded AgroCenta in 2015 to boost the agricultural value chain in Ghana by improving rural farmer’s access to market and finance. This is done through their online trading platform AgroTrade (offering farmer registrations, inventory management and logistics and tracking) and financial inclusion platform AgroPay ( offering digital payments, micro-lending and crop insurance). The startup has received a total of $1.15M across two seed rounds after being crowned the global winner of the Seedstars World and awarded funding from the GMSA Ecosystem Accelerator.
Rent To Own Zambia ($1.05M)
Rent to own Zambia describes itself as ‘ a social business’ that seeks to provide high impact assets (refrigerators, hammer mills and irrigation pumps) to micro-entrepreneurs in Zambia to help catalyze business growth for clients from underdeveloped and disadvantaged communities. The startup was co-founded in 2010 by Mark Hemsworth and Patrun Chikolwizu. In a Seed round AHL Venture Partners with participation from Small Foundation and Jordan Engineering, the startup has raised $1.05M.
Green Path Food ($1M)
In a Series A led by Novastar Ventures, Ethiopian venture Green Path Food raised $1M to grow its operations and begin expanding to new sites in Ethiopia. This will grow their potential impact in the country and on the continent. Other notable investors include Oxfam’s Enterprise Development Programme and Engineers Without Borders (EWB). Green Path Food is a ‘speciality food company that produces and sources premium, organic food products’ through a network of smallholder partner farms across East Africa.
In two Seed rounds, this startup has raised $420K in funding from investors Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and TechStars. Cowtribe was founded in 2016 by co-founders Awin Peter and Alima Bawah and has since provided on-demand and subscription-based animal vaccine delivery services to last-mile farmers in Ghana. This startup has served over 29,000 farmers in 119 communities and helped reduce animal mortality in these communities.
Thrive Agric ($320K)
Launched at the end of 2016 by founders Uka Eje and Ayo Arikawe, Thrive Agric has helped provide Nigerian farmers with the finance for inputs, advisory services and access to markets through crowdfunding investments. So far, the firm has succeeded in having 127,000+ acres farmed, 2.6+ million birds raised, 170,000+ metric tonnes of grains produced and worked with 18,500+ farmers. Across three rounds, Thrive Agric has raised a total of $320K with Y Combinator, 500 Startups and Ventures Platform as its investors.
Trotro Tractor ($50K)
In 2016, KOSMOS Energy and MEST Africa participated in Seed round that saw Trotro raise $50K. This venture has used technology to impact the lives of smallholder farmers through the provision of a platform that avails accessible and affordable tractor services to enhance productivity, improve efficiency and reduce post-harvest loss. It was founded in 2016 by Kamal Yakub, Adam Muhideen Muhammed and Emmanuel Ansah-Amprofi.
Micheal Iyanro founded this startup to curb three main problems poultry production faces: lack of financial resources, reliance on old knowledge and lack of a connection to a market to sell its product. BirdPreneur is another Nigerian agritech that not only educates but trains Nigerian farmers on technologies available locally, secures funds from farm sponsors and uses these finances to buy what the farmers need to be successful. So far, the startup has raised $40K Seed funding from Iowa AgriTech Accelerator.
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