Kenyan AgriTech startup Apollo Agriculture has secured US$1 million in debt funding from The Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund).
Founded in 2016 by Benjamin Njenga and Eli Pollak, Apollo Agriculture uses agronomic machine learning, remote sensing, and mobile phones to deliver a customized package of credit, high-quality farm inputs, and advice that can double farm yields.
Apollo assesses farmer credit risk and customizes each package to a farmer’s specific location using satellite data, soil data, farmer behaviour data and crop yield models. The company generates revenues on the sale of farm products and earning margins on financing.
Apollo has grown rapidly, nearly tripling its customer base over the last year, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through insights from interviews with over 240 Apollo farmers, 71 per cent of farmers say their productivity has “very much increased” since working with Apollo.
Apollo will use the proceeds to continue scaling its high impact AgriTech solution to reach more smallholder farmers who are unable to access microfinance and commercial bank lending. The investment will have a positive impact to improve food security and reduce food shortages in rural Kenya.
Eli Pollak, CEO at Apollo Agriculture, says: “We are thrilled to partner with the ABC Fund. This funding will support our strong continued growth, enabling us to help more small-scale farmers access high-quality farming inputs, advice and insurance on credit, significantly increasing their yields and income. Apollo’s automated, tech-driven approach is designed to help millions of farmers make the transition from subsistence to commercial farmer sustainably. We are excited to have ABC Fund as a strong partner as we continue to scale.
The ABC Fund is a blended-finance impact fund that provides catalytic financing to underserved yet profitable segments of agribusiness value chains in developing countries. Prior to the investment in Apollo, the ABC Fund has provided a total of US$12 million in funding to three farmers co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, six small-and-medium agri-businesses in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, and two financial institutions operating in Ecuador, Kenya and Uganda which on-lend to smallholder farmers.
Emanuele Santi, Fund Manager for the ABC Fund at Bamboo Capital Partners, says: “Apollo is an excellent example of a technology-driven business which is making a real difference to improve the lives of marginalised farming communities in Kenya. Apollo’s innovative solution to help smallholder farmers maximise profitability is proven, and moreover, it is directly improving food security and reducing shortages in the region. We are delighted that the ABC Fund now has the opportunity to play a crucial role in scaling Apollo to enable it to reach even more smallholder farmers and continue delivering a positive impact on the ground.”
Image Credits: Rabobank Foundation