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Funding

Agritech Startup, Farmcrowdy, Closes $1 Million in Seed Funding

If there’s one startup that doesn’t seem to shy away from opportunities, it’s Nigeria’s first digital agricultural platform, FarmCrowdy. The agritech startup was in the news recently celebrating a year in operation and the launch of their new service, a mobile app to allow sponsors greater involvement with their investments. Well, they are back again in headlines this time after securing $1 million in seed funding from international and local investors.

FarmCrowdy is a Nigerian startup that is revolutionising agriculture in Nigeria. With just over a year in existence and operations, the startup has very well disrupted what venturing into and sponsoring agriculture mean for thousands of people. Since inception, FarmCrowdy is one startup that has shown great promise and proven it is capable of big things. The company has “aggregated a combined 4,000 acres of farmland across 8 states in Nigeria and worked with 2000 small scale farmers.”  As an agritech firm, they are certainly blazing a rather nice trail through relatively uncharted territory.

agritech

The vision of the company seems to be drawing more and more believers as the company makes one leap after the other. Recently, they were named the Tech Startup of the Year” and “Agric-Tech Company/Platform of the Year” during the Nigeria Technology Awards 2017 and the list of awards just keep increasing. They also went through Techstars Atlanta’s accelerator programme as the only African startup selected for this year’s class.

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In the agritech company’s latest triumph, they have managed to raise $1 million in seed funding. This they got from investors including Cox Enterprises, Techstars Ventures, Social Capital, Hallett Capital and Right-Side Capital. Also included in the list are angel investors Tyler Scriven, Michael Cohn, Josephine Group, FC Agro Allied SPV and Dr. Christof Walter.

The seed fund will allow the agritech startup to scale its operations with plans to expand into a combined 20 states in Nigeria, work with 4,000 additional small-scale farmers and engage a combined 20,000 new farm followers and sponsors. Speaking on the announcement, Mr. Onyeka Akumah, CEO and Co-Founder of Farmcrowdy says,

“Today’s seed announcement is a remarkable milestone for us and Nigeria’s Agritech Industry as a whole-especially having just celebrated our first year of operations in November 2017. It will allow us to build on our earlier traction as we continue to introduce Nigerians to this exciting new category of partnering with farmers for impact and return… We are thrilled that as a Nigerian startup operating for just over a year, we have a group of investors who share in the vision and mission of FarmCrowdy as much as we do”

FarmCrowdy has also proved itself to be a company of much merit. Aside all the awards which the company seems to be raking in from all directions, the agritech company has also demonstrated their ability to deliver on their services. In their wake, they leave behind an almost unending number of satisfied clients. Their recently launched app is also very clean, easy to use and reliable with over 5,000 downloads in the 3 weeks since its release. We are certainly excited about this investment for their scale of operations and those who will be working with them.

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It truly is a remarkable thing that a startup as young as FarmCrowdy is doing such big things and delivering on the promise of good things to come. It also proves that there are investors out there willing to fund very good ideas. The story of FarmCrowdy is one that we are keeping our fingers crossed on. At any rate, we wish you all the best and keep our fingers crossed for more excellent news.


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Elikplim Gah - TECH EDITOR - is a young aspiring mechanical engineer with an interest in technology and it's potential impact on the rapidly transforming needs of Africa and the world.

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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