Komaza, a Kenyan-based tech-enabled and sustainable forestry company that is revolutionizing the wood industry in Africa through its innovative smallholder platform, has secured the first close of US$28 million of the company’s planned US$33 million Series B equity financing.
With continued investment and support from their Series A lead Novastar Ventures, this financing round was co-led by Novastar LPs AXA Investment Managers (through the AXA Impact Fund: Climate & Biodiversity), and the Dutch development bank FMO, with further participation by Mirova’s Land Degradation Neutrality Fund.
Komaza has planted over 6 million trees with 25,000 smallholder farmers to date, with annual plantings nearly doubling Kenya’s rate of commercial tree planting. This rate places the company among Africa’s top commercial tree planters.
Komaza’s “microforestry” model represents a paradigm shift in the industry from large, costly plantations to distributed partnerships with local farmers.
This shift yields an 80% cost disruption vs traditional plantations for every acre planted while unlocking dramatically more land for forestry activities, especially those held by farmers around major cities.
While distributed operations increase management complexity, Komaza has tackled these planning and coordination challenges using AI and satellite data to map existing tree growth and real-time mobile apps on the ground to track farmer progress.
With this latest funding closed, Komaza is well on their way towards their goal of planting one billion trees by 2030, benefiting over 2M farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and doubling existing tree cover across all operating landscapes.
“For every acre of habitat lost on Kenya’s coast, more species go extinct than anywhere on the planet,” says Tevis Howard, Komaza’s Founder and CEO. “Massive challenges need ambitious companies fighting to create value and align incentives around solutions that work for both people and the planet. At Komaza, our vision is to become Africa’s largest forestry company, by partnering with farmers to provide a sustainable and hyper-scalable domestic supply of wood. As a result, farmers get a climate-resilient, zero-risk, source of wealth creation for their families, and investors get commercial returns, all while relieving the intense pressure on remaining natural forests.”
According to Jonathan Dean, Head of Impact Investing at AXA Investment Managers, “Our partnership with Komaza provides a practical model for aligning the interests of local communities with global objectives to combat climate change, protect ecosystems and their inherent biodiversity. Partnerships with the farmers and a close relationship with the supply chain will empower communities to not only help preserve local biodiversity but also drive an additional source of income.”
Komaza plans to leverage its Series B funding to expand from its first site on Kenya’s coast to two additional sites across East Africa.
The company will invest in additional wood manufacturing facilities to expand its line of high quality, sustainable building materials. Komaza plans to add a new direct-to-farmer app to drive enrollment and increase farmer access to best practices. They will also build off of their success with recent remote sensing and AI pilot for automated monitoring of their farms.
Image Credits: Komaza
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