Kenyan agri-tech startup Lentera has signed a working capital finance facility with the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) to enable it to provide climate smart agriculture solutions to more farmers while it seeks equity investment.
Founded in 2017, Lentera offers precision agriculture services, including farm software, weather sensors, drone and satellite imaging, as well as automated advisory services on market conditions.
Disrupt Africa reported last month the bootstrapped startup was on the fundraising trail as it aims to build out its platform, seeking a US$560,000 funding round to build out crop-specific versions of its climate smart solutions.
In the meantime, Lentera has taken on debt funding from the KCIC, an initiative supported by the World Bank’s infoDev that provides incubation, capacity-building services and financing to Kenyan ventures that are developing innovative solutions in energy, water and agribusiness to address climate change challenges.
Moses Kimani, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lentera, told Disrupt Africa he could not release the exact terms of the financing, but said it was a loan facility offered at competitive rates that would enable Lentera to meet its early targets as it prepares to raise seed funding.
“The KCIC early-stage financing has come at an important time for Lentera,” he said. “It will enable us to expand the offering of our precision agriculture solution and to develop crop-specific growth models with the corresponding agronomy package. This will deepen our impact with farmers and enable us meet our revenue milestones before our seed round.”
Lentera is currently piloting two main services. Its farm mapping platform uses a drone to provide farmers with a baseline of their crops’ health, pointing out areas of concern such as irrigation and nutrition problems, and providing pest and disease scouting data.
“Thereafter, we collect satellite data of the farm every five days to monitor progress. We also install ground weather stations for selected farms. Our algorithm highlights problems with the growth in crops and provides insights on areas that need chemical soil analysis,” said Kimani.
Lentera also provides soil health advisory and inputs, based on the information provided by the crop health maps.
“We provide farmers with advice and supply them with organic inputs that rectify problems with soil acidity as well as poor nutrition levels,” Kimani said.