Kenyan startup Farmers Pride, a one-stop e-commerce platform that connects village level farmers to quality inputs, services, and information through women-owned DigiShops powered by technology, has raised US$220,000 funding from Gray Matters Capital under its gender portfolio coLABS.
Farmers Pride is a last mile online-to-offline marketplace platform that connects farmers with everything they need to succeed by leveraging on 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.
The startup’s DigiShop platform creates new agriculture opportunities to village level farmers to access trusted and dependable information, inputs and services. It now plans to scale its offering after raising funding 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.
Farmers Pride will use the US$220,000 funding to help it reach 500,000, mostly female, rural farmers to boost their income and productivity through access to quality inputs and services. The startup will utilise the investment for agro-dealer pipeline development, and the launch of 50 technology-powered women and youth owned village level DigiShops, as well as a DigiShop technology upgrade to support last mile SMS and voice powered delivery of farmer education and inputs.
It also plans to roll out a robust farmer education programme to reach additional 30,000 farmers by 2022, the majority of these being women and youth.
“Farmers Pride’s competitive advantage and uniqueness lies in adopting an agro-dealer franchising concept and integrating that with the DigiShop technology to transform rural women-owned agro-dealer shops, support women farmers to increase their income and improve last mile delivery of agricultural solutions; thus creating prosperous futures for smallholder farmers while contributing to the elimination of youth unemployment, food insecurity, and malnutrition in Kenya and beyond, in Africa,” said the startup’s founder Samuel Munguti.
The investment marks the latest made by coLABS in the agri-tech space in Kenya after it invested in B2B startup Taimba and trading platform Farmshine last year. Its other portfolio startups are Rwanda’s ARED, Ghana’s Redbird, Nigeria’s Sonocare, and Tanzania’s WomenChoice Industries.
“Due to the global pandemic, we had to go from being a sector-agnostic fund to focus on specific sectors that are leveraging technology to provide women and girls with solutions to weather the storm. Agriculture, with a specific focus on improving value chains and productivity, emerged as one of the priority areas,” said Sharda Vishwanathan, pipeline development lead at Gray Matters Capital coLABS.
“In our interactions with agri-tech entrepreneurs, we have learned that access to quality agri-inputs and technical know-how is a huge challenge which further makes smallholder farmers – 80 per cent of which are women – vulnerable to the risks of climate change. COVID-19 has only widened this gap and impacted productivity by creating several bottlenecks.”
She said Farmers Pride had built a sustainable solution that can address the looming challenges related to the agricultural last mile.
“By harnessing technology, Farmers Pride transforms the women-owned informal stores into micro-franchisees that can build traceability of the inputs and thus guarantee quality. In the process, they not only help build a community of micro-entrepreneurs with improved incomes but also shift gears for smallholder farmers by increasing the productivity of their yields. We are excited to work with Farmers Pride and support their inclusive agri-tech model that serves the underserved and has the potential to create a ripple effect in the communities.”