BY: ONOME AMUGE
ThriveAgric, the Nigerian technology driven agricultural company, is to see its pan-African growth plan accelerate following the successful raising of $56.4 million in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors.
The new development, which includes a co-investment grant of $1.75 million from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment, is aimed at enabling the company to expand its over 200,000 farmer base, and also extend into new African markets, including Ghana, Zambia and Kenya.
ThriveAgric was founded in 2017 and has been operating fully since 2018, empowering farmers in Nigeria to sell their products to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and food processors, leveraging the Agricultural Operating System (AOS), its proprietary technology, to access finance as well as improve productivity and sales to promote food security.
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The technology-enhanced system dispatches Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to farmers, and powers Android apps used by field agents to help digitally collate creditworthy farmers and gather relevant farm data.
Speaking on the impact the funds will have on stakeholders, especially small holder farmers, Uka Eje, chief executive officer, ThriveAgric, said the new investment takes the organisation one step closer to fulfilling its goal of building the largest network of profitable African farmers using technology, to ensure food security.
Eje recalled that ThriveAgric witnessed temporary payment disruptions to its retail crowdfunders despite a volatile backdrop over the past few years, brought about by the global pandemic.
He however noted that ThriveAgric was able to overcome those challenges within a year and maintained company profitability, supported by solid financial performance which underscores investors’ faith in the company.
Looking ahead with renewed optimism that stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers will benefit financially even more from the new investment, Eje said, “It is great to see that the market has overwhelmingly backed our farmers and they are confident in the strategic decisions we have taken.
“ThriveAgric has increased its footprint to 20 states in Nigeria, and we look forward to a lengthy period of growth as we continue to link African farmers to capital, data driven best practices and access to local and global markets for their commodities,” he added.
Ayo Arikawe, ThriveAgric co-founder and chief technology officer, explained that ThriveAgric’s fundraising objectives are geared towards growth through vertical and horizontal integration.
According to Arikawe, one of the company’s goals is to widen access to markets for its smallholder farmers, help to lift them out of poverty, and ultimately promote food security.
“We’re thrilled and excited to receive support from such high calibre investors. Their financial backing is an essential step in fulfilling ThriveAgric’s vision to build an Africa that feeds herself and the world,” he said.
In a statement made available to Business A.M., ThriveAgric said smallholder farmers constitute over 80 percent of the Nigerian agriculture industry, noting that access to finance, advisory, and markets are significant barriers, while nearly 72 percent live below the poverty line on less than $1.90 a day.
The statement explained that ThriveAgric supports Africa’s agriculture sector by assisting smallholder farmers in producing high-quality grains including, maize, rice and soybeans,which are stored in many of its over 450 warehouses in Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina states in Nigeria, before being commoditized and offered to local and global trade markets at a premium price.
It further stated that farmers assisted by ThriveAgric can charge premium rates for their commodities, allowing them to increase their incomes up to 25 percent.