Kenyan agri-tech startup Farmshine has raised US$250,000 in funding from US-based impact investor Gray Matters Capital’s gender lens sector agnostic portfolio coLABS to expand its operations.
Farmshine operates a global agriculture platform where farmers, buyers and service providers can trade on mutually beneficial terms. Its agriculture operating system enables smallholder farmers to aggregate and sell their harvests directly to large commodity companies.
Combined with on-the-ground support from Farmshine’s field officers, the mobile app ensures that farmers are offered clear, fair and reliable contracts from legitimate buyers.
The startup has raised US$250,000 from GMC coLABS. Launched in 2018, coLABS is an early-stage, sector-agnostic investment portfolio of impact investor Gray Matters Capital, that looks to support innovative and scalable startups that improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
Farmshine is rolling out its operating system to non-profit partners, expanding into higher value commodities, and providing supermarkets with traceable products for its customers, and the funds will be used to hire and train personnel, including field agents, and to further develop the platform to connect the agriculture ecosystem.
The investment marks the second made by coLABS in the agri-tech space in Kenya after funding B2B startup Taimba in July, while Farmshine becomes the fifth African startup in its portfolio, which also includes Rwanda’s ARED, Ghana’s Redbird and Nigeria’s Sonocare.
Outlining the investment rationale, Jennifer Soltis, portfolio manager at coLABS, said women are often excluded from the formal economy in Kenya, and it is difficult for them to find better opportunities or higher paying work.
“Farmshine’s platform enables women, who constitute 70 per cent of its farmers, to receive significantly higher incomes by providing access to completely transparent pricing information before they plant, as well as the freedom to select the buyer they would like to supply to,” she said.
“In addition to growing more crops and receiving higher prices, women will receive an economic identity and trade history. Farmshine’s app records quantity, quality and timeliness of each harvest sold, as well as loan repayments, training received, and other indications of a successful, reliable farmer. Based on this, women will be able to apply for small loans, purchase inputs on credit and access more profitable growing opportunities with the entire agricultural ecosystem in Kenya and beyond.”