Kenya-based agritech startup, Farmshine, has raised funding of USD 250 K from US-based impact investor, Gray Matters Capital’s gender lens sector-agnostic portfolio – GMC coLABS.
Farmshine’s platform connects farmers with the information, suppliers and service providers they need to minimize costs and maximize harvests. The startup operates a global agriculture platform where farmers, buyers and service providers can trade on mutually beneficial terms.
Gray Matters Capital’s coLABS is an early-stage investment portfolio seeking to invest in innovative and scalable for-profit enterprises that have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
This marks the second investment by the impact investor in the agri-tech space in Kenya after funding B2B startup Taimba in July this year and is the fifth African startup added to its portfolio which includes Rwanda’s ARED, Ghana’s Redbird Health Tech and Nigeria’s Sonocare in the last two years.
The funds raised will be used to hire and train personnel, including field agents, and to further develop the platform to connect the agriculture ecosystem.
Farmshine’s agriculture operating system enables smallholder farmers to aggregate and sell their harvests directly to large commodity companies. This has not been easy in the past because it was hard to exchange accurate information on buyers’ contract offers or to ensure the trust needed for buyers and farmers to engage in such a contract.
Combined with on-the-ground support from Farmshine’s field officers, the mobile app ensures that farmers are offered clear, fair and reliable contracts from legitimate buyers. Every activity takes place through the app – including contract agreement, production management, crop aggregation, and delivery and payment – ensuring full transparency among each party.
Farmshine’s agriculture operating system can also be used by the UN, NGOs and commercial organizations to manage their agricultural activities. This includes the registration, training and management of smallholder farmers; monitoring of crop growth and field activities throughout the growing season; early warning of plant pests and diseases; and aggregation and sale to large commodity companies.
According to Luca Alinovi, Farmshine’s Founder & CEO, “Farmshine’s platform was designed with a farmer-first approach. It can be easily replicated for any value chain in any country, and can scale from thousands to hundreds of thousands of farmers.”
Outlining the rationale behind the investment, Jennifer Soltis, Portfolio Manager – coLABS, Gray Matters Capital said: “Women are often excluded from the formal economy in Kenya, and it is difficult for them to find better opportunities or higher-paying work.”
“Farmshine’s platform enables women, who constitute 70 percent of its farmers, to receive significantly higher incomes by providing access to completely transparent pricing information before they plant, as well as the freedom to select the buyer they would like to supply to,” she said.
She goes on to elucidate how Farmshine’s app helps transform women farmers from subsistence farmers to entrepreneurial small traders: “In addition to growing more crops and receiving higher prices, women will receive an economic identity and trade history.”
“Farmshine’s app records quantity, quality and timeliness of each harvest sold, as well as loan repayments, training received, and other indications of a successful, reliable farmer. Based on this, women will be able to apply for small loans, purchase inputs on credit and access more profitable growth opportunities with the entire agricultural ecosystem in Kenya and beyond”, she said.
Going forward, armed with fresh funds, Farmshine will be rolling out its operating system to non-profit partners, expanding into higher-value commodities, and providing supermarkets with traceable products for its customers.
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