Nigeria, in recent years, has seen an increase in the number of companies addressing challenges in the agriculture sector with technology. With this growth, Nigeria has become one of the most vibrant agritech markets in Sub-Saharan Africa as the market continues to attract funders and support organisations from across the globe.
Today several agritech firms such as Farmcrowdy, Thrive Agric, AgroMall, Hello Tractor, and Crop2Cash, among others, are offering innovative digital solutions to address Nigeria’s agriculture problems.
These companies have launched digital solutions that aim to improve farmers’ access to markets, finance, assets, and actionable data-driven information
However, investments in this segment are still very low as investors are shying away from agritech due to the perceived risk of investing in agriculture and the opportunity cost compared to other sectors. While some of the agritech startups have attracted commercial investments and benefitted from grant funding, many of these firms are yet to get the needed impetus to scale.
Top 5 Agritech startups in Nigeria by funds raised in 2021/2022
Amidst the paucity of funds in the sector, these agritech startups secured significant funding in the amount of $84.05 combined for the period in review.
Hello Tractor ($1 million)
- Hello Tractor is a Nigerian agritech company that focuses on connecting tractor owners and smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through farm equipment sharing applications.
- Founded in 2014 by Jehiel Oliver and Van Jones, the company has rolled out a tracking device and software that allows farmers and tractor owners to book connected tractors from their phones. Farmers get a critical service formerly unavailable to them, and owners see a fleet optimisation opportunity that also minimises fuel theft and fraud.
- In May 2022, Hello Tractor raised $1 million in funding from Heifer International, which supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income. The cash is funding a new programme, “Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor Financing for Increased Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria.
Vendease ($3.2 million)
- Vendease is an agri-tech startup that lets restaurants and other food businesses buy supplies directly from manufacturers and farms. The agritech platform recently raised $3.2 million seed funding to transform Africa’s food supply chain in a funding round led by Global Founders Capital with participation from Y Combinator, Hustle Fund, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Soma Cap.
- The funding comes seven months after the company, along with nine other African entrepreneurs, participated in Y Combinator’s winter batch.
- Vendease was founded in January 2020 by Tunde Kara, Olumide Fayankin, Gatumi Aliyu, and Wale Oyepeju, to solve Africa’s food supply chain problems by automating procurement procedures, storage operations, logistics, and providing flexible payment systems to help food businesses grow.
- Through its mobile and web apps, Vendease allows food businesses to place orders for food supplies, manage inventory, track expenses and gain access to credit facilities.
Releaf ($4.2 million)
- Releaf is an agritech start-up founded by Ikenna Nzewi and Uzoma Ayogu, with a focus on developing proprietary hardware and software solutions that make African farmers and food factories more efficient and profitable.
- The firm 2021 raised $2.7 million in a seed funding round led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa, and Consonance Investment Managers, with participation from Stephen Pagliuca, Chairman of Bain Capital, and Justin Kan (Twitch). In addition, Releaf also secured $1.5 million in grants from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID, making a total of $4.2 million in seed funding and grant.
- Releaf’s software connects the start-up to more than 2,000 smallholder farmers, ensuring consistent, large-scale supply. While palm kernel oil production is not foreign to Nigeria, Releaf’s technology and scale mean it can process 500 tonnes of palm nuts per week.
- The software offerings also allow the start-up to receive inbound supply requests from farmers via USSD, provide working capital financing as well as collect proprietary data on supply availability.
Agricorp ($17.5 million)
- Agricorp is a Nigerian spices producing, processing, and exporting company. The company September last year raised $17.5 million in Series A funding to increase its processing capacity up to 7000 metric tonnes.
- This fund was raised from Vami Nigeria, One Capital LLC and AFEX. Nigerian-based Vami led the funding round with $11.5 million in equity, while the other investors provided working capital financing for the company. Ernst & Young (Nigeria) served as transaction advisers while Elisio Law Office and Pavestone Legal served as legal advisers.
- Founded in 2018 by Kenneth Obiajulu and Wale Omotimirin, Agricorp is contributing to meeting the growing demand of spices as an export material. Data from Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture shows that despite being the third highest exporter of ginger globally, Nigeria’s ginger production is put at 31 million MT while demand is put at 65 million MT, leaving a gap of 34 million MT.
ThriveAgric ($58.15 million)
- ThriveAgric has not just recorded the largest fundraising in the agritech sector, it was one of the top Nigerian startup fundraisers in Q1 2022. The company was founded by Uka Eje, and Ayodeji Arikawe to provide access to finance, premium markets, and data-driven advisory for smallholder farmers.
- Last year, the company secured a $1.75 million grant to support 50,000 smallholder farmers growing rice, maize, and soybean in Nigeria. The grant is provided by the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve food security in the country.
- In March 2022, ThriveAgric secured $56.4 million in debt funding from commercial banks and institutional investors, bringing its total fund raised between 2021 and 2022 to $58.15 million.
- With the new investment, the company plans to expand its 200,000+ farmer base, as well as enter new markets in Africa, including Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya.