Agriculture investment platform, Thrive Agric ThriveAgric has announced a $56.4M debt financing from local commercial banks and institutional investors. According to a statement by the company, the raise includes a co-investment grant of $1.75M from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment.
This latest funding follows the $9m the company raised in 2020. The new investment will enable the company to grow its 200,000+ farmer base, and expand into new African markets, including Ghana, Zambia and Kenya.
Founded in 2017 (and fully operational since 2018), ThriveAgric empowers farmers in Nigeria to sell their products to FMCGs and food processors, leveraging its proprietary technology to access finance as well as improve productivity and sales to promote food security.
Speaking on the impact the funds will have, Chief Executive Officer Uka Eje, said:
“The new investment takes us one step closer to fulfilling our mission of building the largest network of profitable African farmers using technology, to ensure food security. We look ahead with renewed confidence knowing that our smallholder farmers will benefit financially even more from this new investment. Despite a volatile backdrop over the past few years, brought about by the global pandemic, ThriveAgric witnessed temporary payment disruptions to our retail crowdfunders. However, we were able to overcome those challenges within a year and maintained company profitability. Our solid financial performance underscores investors’ faith in ThriveAgric.”
“It is great to see that the market has overwhelmingly backed our farmers and they are confident in the strategic decisions we have taken. ThriveAgric has increased its footprint to 20 states in Nigeria, and we look forward to a lengthy period of growth as we continue to link African farmers to capital, data-driven best practices and access to local and global markets for their commodities”, he concludes.
ThriveAgric’s Agricultural Operating System (AOS) works entirely offline, dispatches USSD to farmers, and powers Android apps used by field agents to help digitally collate creditworthy farmers and gather relevant farm data. Farmers assisted by ThriveAgric can charge premium rates for their commodities, allowing them to increase their incomes up to 25 per cent.
The company supports Africa’s agriculture sector by assisting smallholder farmers in producing high-quality grains. Harvests, including maize, rice and soybeans, are stored in many of the company’s 450+ warehouses in Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina states in Nigeria, before being commoditized and offered to local and global trade markets at a premium price.
The tech-driven agric company last year faced renewed allegations on defaulting of payment of matured investments. This led to a brief stepdown of the CEO, Uka Eje and the appointment ex-VP Growth of Migo, Adia Sowho to become the interim CEO of the company. Adia has since moved on to telecoms company, MTN having stabilised the company and paid out the claims.
The incident also led to the appointment of key personnel, including Olurotimi Arigbede, Chief Financial Officer and Michael Kadiri, Head of Risk Management and Compliance. Under the strengthened management structure, the company settled all outstanding disputes with subscribers.
Since, the company said that it has enjoyed a five-fold revenue increase over the past 12 months, with a year-on-year increase of 277% in farmer numbers. The strong margin performance was boosted by farmers using the company’s AOS proprietary product.
Smallholder farmers constitute over 80% of the Nigerian agriculture industry. Access to finance, advisory, and markets are significant barriers. Nearly 72% live below the poverty line on less than $1.90 a day.
Speaking on the raise, Co-founder and CTO, Ayo Arikawe, said:
“ThriveAgric’s fundraising objectives are geared towards growth through vertical and horizontal integration. One of our goals is to be able to widen access to markets for our smallholder farmers, help to lift them out of poverty, and ultimately promote food security. We do this by enabling them to take their produce to local and international markets. We’re thrilled and excited to receive support from such high calibre investors. Their financial backing is an essential step in fulfilling ThriveAgric’s vision to build an Africa that feeds herself and the world.”
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