Nigeria’s ThriveAgric raises $56.4m debt funding to accelerate African expansion plans
Nigerian startup that leverages technology to empower smallholder farmers across Africa by linking them to finance, data-driven best practices, and access to local & global markets for their commodities has raised $56.4million in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors. The raise also included a co-investment grant of $1.75million from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment. Its latest funding follows the $9million the company raised in 2020. The new investment will now enable the company to grow its 200,000+ farmer base and expand into new African markets in countries such as Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya.
ThriveAgric was founded in 2017 and became fully operational in 2018. Since then, it’s been empowering 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.
Over the past 12 months, ThriveAgric’s revenues have increased five-fold, with a year-on-year increase of 277% in farmer numbers. The strong margin performance was boosted by farmers using the company’s Agricultural Operating System (AOS) technology. The proprietary product 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.
The company supports Africa’s agriculture sector by assisting smallholder farmers in producing high-quality grains including maize, rice and soybeans, and are then 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.
Commenting 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 overcame 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.”
Farmers assisted by ThriveAgric can charge premium rates for their commodities, allowing them to increase their incomes up to 25 per cent. At the height of the global pandemic, business and supply disruptions prevented ThriveAgric from fulfilling obligations to its subscribers, leading to swift appointments 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.