Crowdfunding of agriculture, or crowd-farming, is very much in vogue across the continent, and Ghana’s Agripool is the latest entrant to the market. The startup aims to differentiate via its training modules, however.
Launched in 2018, Agripool was formed to tackle two major issues within the agricultural space.
“Rural farmers lacked adequate skills and proper modern farming methods which lead to low yields after every farming season and lower returns after this produce is sold on the market,” said Yaw Duffour Awuah, the startup’s chief executive officer (CEO).
“Access to the right kind of land for farming activities is expensive to access and obtain when an individual seeks to venture into agriculture, while essential farming equipment like tractors, ploughs, and irrigation sets are also expensive to purchase or rent.”
Agripool tackles these issues through its platform, which drives investment in firms and also further empowers rural farmers by providing training and irrigation services. It allows individuals to browse through available farms, and select those they wish to fund. Whenever 100 farm units of a crop is purchased, a farmer is trained by Agripool and assigned irrigated farmland to tend to. Users can track the farmer’s progress over time, and earn returns once produce from that farm is sold.
“There were people who wanted to start farms but had no experience on starting and tending to these farms. There were others who also wanted to start farms but had issues with finding litigation-free lands on which to begin their agriculture ventures,” Awuah said.
“The existing farms owned by people lacked proper irrigation, and as a result these farmers depended on rainfall, making the farms seasonal.”
The bootstrapped Agripool looks to solve all these problems with its innovative combination of financing and training, and has already seen users sign up from across Africa and Europe. Over 1,500 farm units have been purchased so far, empowering almost 20 farmers. Now, the startup is engaging the Securities and Exchange Commission of Ghana to obtain a license.
“This is almost done, which is a major landmark worth mentioning since most Ghanaian investors are seeking a trusted investment option,” said Awuah.
“A major challenge Agripool has faced since launch is convincing an individual to put their money into a new investment option, after a major financial fiasco by a household investment firm. This has caused a huge scare among most Ghanaians to invest their money into new and other options that are provided to them.”
There are plans to expand to other countries on the continent, with talks already underway about an immediate expansion of the service into Uganda.
“Agripool Liberia should follow shortly after Agripool Uganda,” Awuah said.
Agripool makes money in two ways. The first is through a 10 per cent charge on all farm unit purchases, and the second is its 30 per cent cut on all profits from produce sold post-harvest.
“Revenues to be made from this venture are very promising,” Awuah said. “Revenue made from the pilot alone was a little over US$7,000.”