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AgroCenta: Agritech Startup Raises US$790K to Secure Fair Market Price for Smallholder Farmers in Ghana

AgroCenta

AgroCenta, an agritech startup addressing food access and stock flow for smallholder farmers in Ghana announces it has successfully raised $790,000 Series A funding from Shell Foundation – a UK Charity, and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Other participants include AV Ventures and Rabo Foundation.

The 2018 Seedstars Summit grand prize winning company, uses an all-encompassing ecosystem approach, by blending cutting edge digital innovation with traditional on the ground operations to transform the lives of smallholder farmers in Ghana. The agritech startup also provides support along the value chain.

This Series A funding is enabling AgroCenta further develop its smallholder farmer inclusion programmes and purchase crops at very transparent and fair market prices to service offtake contracts.

Agriculture and farming are a staple activity for more than half of the population in many West African countries. Smallholder farmers are usually faced with many difficulties when trying to bring and sell their harvest on the market, after having relentlessly worked their plots of land. The troubling lack of information on fair market pricing for their different crops often leaves them at the mercy of selling at low prices to middlemen and this is what Agrocenta is determined to change.

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Again, the lack of adequate infrastructure, logistics and transportation tend to limit the farmers’ access to larger urban markets, where they could obtain much better pricing for their produce.

Furthermore, these smallholders farmers do lack basic data enabling KYC (Know Your Customer) and a limited or non-existent credit history, which means they have very limited access to finance.

Unfortunately, this prevents many from being able to use all of their land for growing crops or forces them to resort to using lower quality inputs thereby leading to stagnation at the bottom of the pyramid.

Image credit: Agrocenta facebook

How AgroCenta is changing the game for smallholder farmers

With their platform called CropChain, smallholder farmers can now transact business with accurate information and since its launch, the average CropChain farmer’s income has increased to around 35%.

With a reliable access to proper financing, inputs and knowledge on agricultural best practices, the farmers, as Agrocenta believes, are well positioned to contribute to sustainable food security in the long run and the agritech startup has managed to reduce food waste by 25%.

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Also, through its community engagement, the company is working to increase gender equality and land ownership by women in a sector where 50% of smallholder farmers are women.

Agriculture accounts for almost 17% of the GDP (gross domestic product) of Ghana and through their outreach and services, AgroCenta says, it has progressively increased crop yields of farmers by 40%, contributing to Ghana’s economy at large.

Agrocenta was launched by Francis Obirikorang, AgroCenta’s CEO and Co-Founder Michael Ocansey in 2016 after they moved on from an earlier business, Swappaholics.

Commenting on the importance of this latest round of investment, Francis Obirikorang and Michael Ocansey both agreed that,

“This is a significant milestone for AgroCenta, having the support of leading institutions, particularly with the COVID-19 backdrop, underlining the strength of AgroCenta and the importance of its mission.

They stressed that, the demand for agricultural raw materials from offtakers in the brewery, manufacturing and consumer sectors, is increasing exponentially because of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions that were initially in place in Ghana.

It therefore means, this capital injection will be helping secure purchases at fair and transparent prices from smallholders. It is this they believe, is a much needed lifeline for smallholder farmers in Ghana who are at the proverbial bottom of the pyramid.

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Funding

Curacel: Insurtech Startup Secures $450K Pre-seed Funding Led by Atlantica Ventures & Consonance

Curacel

The insurtech startup, Curacel, an AI-powered platform for claims processing and fraud management in Africa, reports that it has raised $450,000 pre-seed funding in a round that was led by Atlantica Ventures and Consonance with participation from Kepple Ventures and other African angel investors.

The new investment will be used to accelerate Curacel’s expansion across Africa and facilitate the goal of becoming Africa’s premier provider of embedded finance technology for insurance.

The insurtech startup already works with some of the biggest insurers on the continent, including AXA Mansard, Liberty Health and Old Mutual, as well as more than 800 hospitals in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda. It plans to expand into 10 new African countries by the end of 2021.

Every year, African insurers lose more than $12 billion to fraudulent, wasteful, and abusive claims. Curacel’s flagship CLAIMS platform acts as a bridge between primary care hospitals and Africa’s insurance companies, using advanced artificial intelligence to ensure that insurance companies only pay claims for the correct treatment, appropriate medications and recommended patient therapies. 

Curacel

Curacel is also scheduled to launch Curacel Capital, a cash advance product that makes it easier for healthcare providers to access working capital to mitigate financial challenges. Delayed payments and other inefficiencies in the payment process means many African healthcare providers often have to make the difficult choice between keeping the books balanced or providing healthcare at a loss. With Curacel Capital, healthcare providers can access lump sums of up to three times their average monthly billings, based on claims processed on the Curacel portal, ensuring that they can continue to deliver essential services without undue disruption.

SEE ALSO |  Irish Founded Umba, Raises US$2M Seed Funding to Expand Further into Africa

With insurance penetration at just 2.8% across the continent, many Africans are one accident or health emergency away from poverty. And in Africa’s communal societies, tragedy impacts entire communities, with people emptying their savings to pay for medical expenses, burials or other disaster relief for family members and kin. By leveraging Curacel’s products and services, insurers across the continent are better equipped to close the insurance gap and safeguard prosperity. 

According to Curacel Co-founder and CEO, Henry Mascot, in a press statement said,

“We are excited to have these investors on board and we are looking forward to partnering with them to drive our vision of improving insurance inclusion across Africa.”

At Curacel he shares, they are uniquely positioned to safeguard livelihoods and increase the quality of life through their unique, market-leading products and services. 

IK Kanu, Partner at Atlantica Ventures noted that,

“The African insurance market represents a significant growth opportunity and we are delighted to be partnering with Curacel to drive growth in this sector. There is an opportunity to create an entirely new market of products and services here and we look forward to supporting the team to improve health outcomes across the continent.” 

Finally, Mobolaji Adeoye, the Managing Partner at Consonance adds that they believe the Curacel team has what it takes to be market leaders and are therefore excited to support them. Also stressing that they have a great product and equally delighted to be coming onboard at this early stage of their growth.

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