ThriveAgric is an agric tech that provides easy access to finance, premium markets, and data-driven advisory for smallholder farmers. Fondly referred to as Farmily, their very essence rests on a technology-driven and agribusiness startup connecting farmers with access to finance premium markets, and passionate about ensuring global food security.
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Founded in 2017 by AyodejiArikaweand Uka Eje (fully operational since 2018)with the focus to build the largest network of farmers across Africa. ThriveAgric empowers farmers in Nigeria to sell their products to FMCGs and food processors, leveraging its proprietary technology to access finance as well as improve productivity and sales to promote food security. Initially, Thrive Agric’s operating model focused on solving three problems for farmers:
- limited access to capital.
- Limited access to extension services.
- limited access to distribution (market).
Then the company ventured into providing capital by crowdfunding from individuals (mostly, urban, middle-class Nigerians) and giving microloans among other things to farmers. These loans are in form of inputs like seeds and agrochemicals, for which they pay back with commodities rather than cash. To solve the problem of distribution, ThriveAgric connects farmers with agro-based manufacturers who buy the farm produce for use as raw materials and then process them into finished products.
To provide a solution to all these challenges associated with farming, the company had to build some tech products. Thriveagric needed a way to raise funds from retail investors, onboard farmers, and monitor farm operations. Finally, it also needed to figure out a way to help the farmers in their platform sell their produce after harvest. The company developed what it refers to as an Agricultural Operating System (AOS) to help improve efficiency in its processes. This active system helps Thrive Agric handle the following:
- Mapping farmers’ lands,
- Onboarding farmers,
- Recording farm visitations,
- Monitoring the progress of the farms in real-time,
- Data gathering at the point of harvest, and
- Inventory management.
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This Agricultural Operating System (AOS) technology works entirely offline, dispatches USSD to farmers, and powers Android apps used by field agents to help digitally collate creditworthy farmers and gather relevant farm data. The startup aids Africa’s agriculture sector by assisting smallholder farmers in producing high-quality grains. Harvests, including maize, rice, and soybeans, are stored in many of the company’s 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. So far, over 140,000 farmers have been onboarded to Thrive Agric’s AOS with the target to onboard 100,000 before the end of2021.
ThriveAgric witnessed temporary payment disruptions to their retail crowd funders in 2020. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, business and supply disruptions prevented ThriveAgric from fulfilling obligations to its subscribers, leading to swift appointments of key personnel, including Olurotimi Arigbede, Chief Financial Officer, and Michael Kadiri, Head of Risk Management and Compliance. Under the strengthened management structure, the company settled all outstanding disputes with subscribers in which Thrive Agric completed its repayment to retail investors (crowdfunders) in April 2021. Now, they will double down on technology to build the largest network of farmers across Africa.
Y Combinator invested in Thrive Agric in 2019. The startup raised $9million in 2020 after which it raised $56.4million in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors in March 2022. The raise also included a co-investment grant of $1.75million from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment. The new investment will enable the company to grow its 200,000+ farmer base and expand into new African markets, including Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya.
Despite an unstable environment over the past few years, brought about by the global pandemic, ThriveAgric has increased its footprint to 20 states in Nigeria while it looks forward to a lengthy period of growth as it continues to link African farmers to capital, data-driven best practices and access to local and global markets for their commodities. Farmers assisted by ThriveAgric can charge premium rates for their commodities, allowing them to increase their incomes up to 25 percent.Featured Image Source: TechNext
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