Nigerian agri-tech startup Releaf has been selected for the Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator, bagging itself US$120,000 in funding as a result.
Releaf aims to build trust between various stakeholders in agribusiness, allowing sellers to bid for active buyer contracts and sellers with mutual contacts to the buyer given preference.
Sellers register and indicate which commodities they are looking to sell, are presented with a list verified buyer contracts for those commodities, and apply to fulfill them. Releaf verifies the seller and allows the buyer to decide if they would like to discuss the contract.
The startup is already participating in the Y Combinator programme, and will take part in a demo day on August 21. Until this point, co-founders Ikenna Nzewi, Uzoma Ayogu and Isaiah Udotong had been working on Releaf part-time while students.
“Portals with millions of African businesses do not facilitate many true business connections, because most business originates through word of mouth. It became clear to us most of the business-to-business challenges result from a lack of trust,” said Nwezi.
The company, operating in stealth mode thus far, has already verified over 600 agribusinesses and facilitated over 100 connections, but is now publicly allowing agribusinesses to apply for verification. Releaf aims to register 20,000 businesses over the next 12 months.
“Our vision is to make doing business in Africa easier. For too long, reliable business has been restricted to few trusted partners and have not found success finding partners on B2B sites. At Releaf, we believe with a larger trusted business network, private sector growth can be stimulated across the African continent,” Udotong said.