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Aerobotics: SA Based Data Analytics Startup Secures US$17M Series B Fund Led by Naspers

Aerobotics

The data analytics company based in Cape Town, Aerobotics, has successfully raised US$17 million in what it describes as an overly subscribed Series B round led by Naspers, a global investment firm.

Other investors in this round were Platform Investment Partners, FMO-Entrepreneurial Development Bank and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation.

Aerobotics, the intelligent tools provider for optimal perennial crop farming practices has quickly scaled its mission of offering its cherished customers with tools rightly needed in feeding the world.

The company’s data is largely used for the certainty it provides to farming and food security, as the global agricultural industry extends to meet food demand and expected population growth.

Aerobotics in the last few years has seen record growth and in the United States of America (USA) specifically, their revenue has experienced grown in excess of an order of magnitude. This latest round of investment is further going into technology development and product delivery in the United States and Aerobotics’ other business locations.

According to James Paterson, CEO of Aerobotics, in a press statement said,

“Thank you to our customers for believing in our vision and to our investors for backing us.

Further commenting on the news, James noted, they were committed to improving Aerobotic’s technology to providing intelligent tools for optimize automation, minimize inputs as well as maximize production.

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He concludes that they were looking forward to further co-developing their existing products with the agricultural industry leaders.

Aerobotics
Drone detecting plants with defects.

How does Aerobotics work?

A user simply creates a free account on their web based platform called, Aeroview. This allows you to order a drone flight. Aerobotics then arranges a drone pilot to fly three (3) times throughout the stated period to track the health and sizes of plants, using a multi-spectral high resolution drone imagery.

The data fetched allows the farmer identify those needing critical attention and inspects them in the field using their Aeroview InField app.

With this, farmers begin making data-driven decisions on their farms, thanks to the use of this AI-based analytics platform.

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Funding

OKO: Insurtech Startup Raises US$1.2M to bring Innovative Insurance to Smallholder Farmers Across Africa

OKO

Insurtech start-up, OKO, that provides inclusive agricultural insurance to secure farmers’ income across Africa, has closed a seed investment of $1.2 million. The round was led by Newfund and ResiliAnce. Mercy Corps Venture, Techstars, ImpactAssets and RaSa also participated in the round.

The startup which currently operates in Mali and Uganda uses satellite data and mobile payments to create automated insurance products for farmers whose fields are affected adversely by weather events — primarily droughts and floods. With the new funding, OKO aims to strengthen its presence in Mali and Uganda and expand its offerings to more African markets, starting with Ivory Coast.

According to the founder of OKO, Simon Schwall, in a press statement said,

Agriculture is by far the largest source of occupation in Africa, with an estimated 33 million farms. And yet, farmers are deprived from basic financial services like insurance and loans.”

Simon also said they were using technology to solve this issue and secure the income of those farmers.

The company already has approximately 7,000 paying customers in Mali and compensated more than 1,000 farmers last year, who were affected by floods. OKO’s customers typically grow maize, cotton, sesame or millet. It also works with agro-industries to help them with their sustainability goals and secure their relationships with suppliers. Successful pilots were completed with ABInBev and Touton in Uganda.

oko

This convinced Augustin Sayer, partner at Newfund, to support OKO:

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“We believe recent advancement in iOT and data availability will lead to the rise of parametric insurance in Africa for the benefit of the local populations. Simon and his team have built solid bases in Mali from which OKO can now expand in new countries and offer new insurance products.”

OKO takes pride in being the most inclusive crop insurance available. All farmers need to connect to OKO is a phone (no smartphone required): they can dial a short code to obtain more information and pay through mobile money services. To achieve this level of accessibility, the company partners with mobile operators.

OKO, for Aisha Touré, the CEO of Orange Money in Mali, has taken full benefit of the Orange Money platform to provide a service that is both innovative and inclusive.

Daniel Block from Mercy Corps Ventures added,

“While other micro-insurance for farmers exist, we were impressed by OKO’s ability to partner with a pan-African operator like Orange and establish a direct consumer link, which allows for an exciting opportunity to drive deeper user engagement and expand to a suite of insurance products for rural farmers in the future.”

The service offered by OKO is supported by regulators and has won both the Fintech Showcase Award by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, representing financial regulators of emerging countries, and the SME award from ITU, the telecommunication governing body.

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When asked about the next challenges for OKO, Simon Schwall’s answer is clear:

“We need to find more partners who can bring our product to farmers, be it NGOs, agro-industrial players, mobile operators or governmental programmes. We proved that our solution is working and answers a strong need. Now we need to scale”

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