Skudu, a South African agritech startup recently raised funding from the pioneering agrifood tech investor, AgVentures, to become the leading online marketplace for agricultural inputs and produce in Africa.
According to AgVentures, in a world where consumers nowadays are spoiled for choice with online marketplaces but the same cannot be said for the buyers and sellers of agricultural inputs and produce, this shows the market is ripe for disruption.
Founded in 2018, Skudu’s innovative platform shortens the agricultural value chain and increases user choice by directly connecting both buyers and sellers. The platform also helps farmers and their advisors improve their input planning and accuracy.
In a press release, the company which is led by agri-industry stalwart, Cobus van der Merwe, commented on this partnership saying,
“We are excited to partner with AgVentures given its deep agri-industry and technology expertise. As Skudu, we want to make it easy for buyers and sellers to find each other. Saving them money in the process and helping them increase their efficiency”.
The investment means Agventures is acquiring a stake in the company.
In revealing why they chose to partner the agri-tech startup, Gerhard Visagie, the CEO of AgVentures share that,
“We were attracted to Skudu, due to their highly experienced management team, ambitious plans and traction gained in a short space of time.”
Adding that they believe the startup is bringing the much needed innovation to the South African agrifood sector with future continental expansion on the table.
Skudu – how the agri-tech operates
In an effort to solving complex challenges with simple solutions, these are three approaches Skudu uses: the Market, Match and Exact modules.
With their Skudu Market module, they makes it very easy for farmers to find the same, or similar agricultural inputs from different input manufacturers, after which enables them request a quote from the suppliers that service their farm location. Farmers receive notification as soon as quotes return and summarized on a single page from where the preferred quote can be accepted. As at now the platform only supports fertilizers and ameliorants, but the expansion to other inputs is planned for the near future.
The Skudu Match module is connecting buyers and sellers of agro-produce on the platform and enabling them agree to as well as capture the terms of the transaction through a blockchain e-contract. It is a first of its kind in South Africa, where Skudu Match will greatly reduce the trading cost of agricultural commodities.
The Skudu Exact gives farmers, or their advisors, control over their farm data and allows for greater accuracy in input planning. It currently allows the planning of soil sample collection and enables users to manage their soil sample data once received from the analytical labs.
AgVenture – agrifood investor
The Skudu funding is AgVentures’ second investment after similarly doing so in FruitSpec, an Israeli startup in 2019 to disrupt the old-fashion paper-based fruit yield estimations with a patented computer-vision based system.
Curacel: Insurtech Startup Secures $450K Pre-seed Funding Led by Atlantica Ventures & Consonance
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 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 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.
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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