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Gro Intelligence: Startup Founded by Sara Menker Secures $85M in Series B Investment

gro intelligence

Gro Intelligence, founded in Nairobi, with offices in both Nairobi (Kenya) and New York (USA) announces that it has received an US$ 85 million in series B funding from Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures.

The Africa Internet Ventures as we understand, is a strategic partnership between TPG Growth and EchoVC. The other participating funding houses into Gro Intelligence’s latest round of investment include the family offices of Eric Zinterhofer and Ronald Lauder.

Investments also came DCVC and GGV Capital who were previous investors of Gro Intelligence. The series B funding also attracted new VC players, namely Dick Parsons, Rethink Food and the Schusterman Family Investments, among other various strategic family offices.

Gro Intelligence we know is an AI (artificial intelligence)-powered insights company that provides decision-making tools, solutions and analytics to the food, agriculture and climate economies and their participants. The company at the moment incorporates over 40,000 data sets and processes north of 650 trillion data points.

Their customer base include governments, financial institutions, agricultural input companies, retailers, food and beverage firm and others.

gro intelligence
Image credit: Grow Intelligence facebook

The Ethiopian born and elated founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, Sara Menker, explains that, food security and climate risk represented an existential global-sized opportunities for the company’s AI-powered decisions and insights platform. And by this, they see a tremendous need for the market knowledge provided by the Gro Platform.

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She further states,

“Our customers have come to rely on Gro as a unique source of actionable data-driven insights about our food supply and models to measure and manage associated climate change risk to physical and financial assets across the globe. We are absolutely delighted to welcome our new investors and continue to be grateful to our existing investors for their support.”

What the latest round of funding will be used for?

The report suggests that, the investment will be used to accelerate the growth and global adoption of the Gro Intelligence’s platform, which will be raising their machine-learning capabilities and delivering localized insights on climate risk, agriculture and food.

According to Trina Van Pelt, the Senior Managing Director of Intel Capital,

“Gro Intelligence is one of the most exciting AI companies and is tackling two of the world’s biggest challenges: food security and climate risk. Their software-based platform will drive compute-powered cross-border knowledge to surface meaningful insights and enable better informed agricultural decisions.”

Further adding that, Intel Capital is really excited to co-lead the investment round because Gro Intelligence’s technology aligned with their stated mission of unleashing the power of data for improving our society.

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Gro Intelligence, for Yemi Lalude, the Managing Partner of TPG Growth Africa, has had a remarkable journey so far and demonstrated the growing importance of AI in driving a more sustainable food supply in the world. Proudly commenting that, their oufit was proud to have supported the company from its beginnings in Nairobi to the forefront of today’s efforts to make companies and institutions across multiple industries around the world more resilient to climate change and climate risk.

As fate may have it, both Intel Capital and TGP Growth led Gro Intelligence’s series A round funding in 2017.

“With its AI-powered platform, Gro Intelligence is solving, at scale, two of the world’s most pressing problems – climate risk and food security,” said Julia Paliare, Managing Director at the Family Office of Ronald Lauder.

She went to extol Sara’s vision, leadership and experience, along with the remarkable technology and team she has assembled. For her, Gro’s founder has positioned the company for accelerated growth at a time when these issues are of utmost importance to the world.

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Have you recently launched your startup, raised funding or any news about your company or organization? Email your story to editor@thespiritedhub.com.

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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