How farming failure inspired this Kenyan founder to launch newly-funded agri-tech startup

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Recently-funded Kenyan agri-tech startup Farmers Pride believes it is poised for national and international growth in the next few years. But its origins stem from failure.

Samuel Munguti’s first business venture was in watermelon and tomato farming, but the enterprise failed as he struggled to access the right inputs, services, and information at local shops. 

“The distribution of agriculture inputs and services is poor, inefficient and unreliable, and dominated by poor quality seeds, counterfeit seeds and agrochemicals, poor input stock management, unaccredited agro-dealers, poor farming technologies, poor post-harvest management, and poor market intelligence to inform farming decisions,” he told Disrupt Africa.

“The majority of rural farmers depend on agro-dealer stores to access inputs and services. These stores face numerous challenges, ranging from record keeping to sourcing inputs to management. Solving these problems for agro-dealers makes them offer improved services to their farmers while empowering the village entrepreneurs to run successful businesses.”

To solve this problem, Munguti launched Farmers Pride in 2016 alongside Nancy Mutuku. The startup has developed a one-stop e-commerce platform that connects village level farmers to quality inputs, services, and information through women-owned DigiShops powered by technology.

The last mile online-to-offline marketplace platform leverages technology and franchising to improve the capacity of women-owned agro-dealer stores to ensure increased farm production and improved family income and food security. 

“Our DigiShop platform creates new agriculture opportunities to village-level farmers to access trusted and dependable information, inputs and services,” Munguti said.

His personal experience of the challenges faced by farmers and agro-dealers alike has evidently paid off, as uptake of Farmers Pride’s services has been strong. It currently has a network of 20 DigiShops, with over 300 agri-vendors in the pipeline and 18,000 farmers onboarded.

Farmers Pride now plans to scale its operations after announcing a US$220,000 funding round earlier this month. The investment came from Gray Matters Capital via GMC coLABS, an early-stage, sector-agnostic investment portfolio that looks to support innovative and scalable startups that improve the lives of women and girls around the world.  Munguti said the startup plans to grow the size of the DigiShop network to 1,000 in the next five years, to directly serve around 500,000 rural farmers.

“We are currently operating in eastern and western Kenya, and targeting national coverage in the next two years before rolling out our pan-African expansion strategy,” he said. “The GMC coLABS funding will definitely accelerate our scale.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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