U.S International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) today announced the first disbursement of a US$5 million loan to Twiga Foods Ltd. to strengthen food security in Kenya by increasing farmers’ access to markets and improving the agricultural supply chain with cold storage. DFC’s investment will empower smallholder farmers and urban produce vendors—the majority of whom are women.
“Twiga is advancing an innovative solution to create economic opportunity—particularly for women—while ensuring dependable and affordable sources of food across Kenya,” said DFC Managing Director of Global Women’s Issues Charity Wallace.
“DFC is proud to support this project, which will help strengthen food security and unlock untapped economic potential across Kenya.”
Agriculture is a vital sector of the Kenyan economy with three out of four Kenyans making a living through agriculture. However, poor infrastructure and inefficient linkages between rural farmers and urban produce vendors result in 30 to 40 per cent of food being wasted.
Since 2014, Twiga has worked to streamline Kenya’s fragmented, inefficient food distribution system. The company purchases fresh produce from remote, hard-to-reach farms across the country. It then packages, stores, and distributes it to urban produce vendors, who place orders through Twiga’s digital sales platform.
By reducing inefficiencies throughout the agricultural supply chain, Twiga helps smallholder farmers move their products to market and earn more consistent, reliable sales. The company’s convenient delivery system also improves livelihoods for urban produce vendors by saving time, reducing costs, and improving product quality. Further, Twiga’s more efficient distribution system strengthens food security by reducing food waste.
To date, this system has connected and increased incomes for over 17,000 farmers and more than 8,000 produce vendors. DFC’s loan will enable Twiga to purchase additional transportation and cold storage equipment in order to expand and move more produce to market.
DFC’s investment in Twiga supports its 2X Women’s Initiative by empowering a network of mostly female produce vendors to increase sales and profits. 2X has catalyzed over $2 billion of private sector investment in businesses and funds owned by, led by, or providing a product or service that intentionally empowers women in the developing world.
Under this broader initiative, DFC has also launched 2X Africa to address the specific challenges faced by women in Africa. 2X supports the U.S. Government’s broader Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).