According to McKinsey, the agriculture industry in Africa has a large social and economic impact.
Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 60% of its land under small-scale farming, and the sector contributes around 23% of the region’s GDP.
However, due to supply chain and infrastructure constraints, Africa finds it challenging to properly engage in global supply chains despite the apparent opportunities in the agriculture industry. Since small and medium-sized farms predominate in Africa, raising productivity is crucial for improving the continent’s economies.
To that end, Ghanaian agritech company Complete Farmer aims to revolutionize local farming methods by creating vital technical and physical infrastructure to boost productivity along the whole agricultural value chain. It recently completed a $10.4 million pre-Series A investment deal to combine its efforts ($7 million in equity and $3.4 million in debt).
The equity portion of the financing was co-led by The Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF) and Alitheia Capital (via its uMunthu II Fund in collaboration with Goodwell Investments). Proparco, Newton Partners through the DP World Venture Fund, VestedWorld Rising Star Fund, and others also took part. Debt finance was supplied by the SEFAA (Social Enterprise Fund for Agriculture in Africa) Fund of Sahel Capital, the Alpha Jiri Investment Fund of Alpha Mundi Group, and Global Social Impact Investments.
“We have been impressed with the progress that Complete Farmer has made in facilitating access to global trade for Ghanaian farmers, as well as introducing them to new crops and sustainable farming practices,” said Tamer El-Raghy, the managing director of ARAF, of the investment. “Complete Farmer’s technology platform and farming protocols enable farmers to access quality inputs, agronomical support, and premium markets, resulting in improved yields and income as reported by the farmers themselves.”
According to its website, Complete Farmer is an end-to-end agricultural marketplace that links African farmers and international businesses to competitive marketplaces, resources, data, and one another.
This platform is a comprehensive one-stop resource that uses exclusive crop production procedures to help smallholder and commercial farmers grow products that meet the requirements of international markets and guarantee post-harvest offtake.
The agritech has undergone multiple changes since its 2017 inception before reaching its present version. Desmond Koney, the CEO, experimented with a variety of initiatives after earning his degree in mechanical engineering, including a gadget that turned organic kitchen waste into methane gas and a vertical farming business. After inheriting his father’s farm, Koney was able to swiftly establish himself in agriculture, where he uncovered a number of issues that were prevalent throughout the value chain.
“I wanted to digitize my father’s belongings because production engineering is my area of competence. He mentioned this on the call as the origin of Complete Farmer. “However, given that it is necessary to ascertain what business model operates, what the product is, etc., this aim may be ambiguous. To find both, we’ve had to make a number of modifications.
At first, the business worked as a contractor to cultivate farms for customers. The company introduced a crowdfunding tool in 2018 that enables individuals to fund and keep tabs on sustainable farms. MEST Africa provided pre-seed capital of about $150,000 to the TechCrunch Battlefield Africa finalist.
Prior to the pandemic, which impacted the operations of multiple crowdfunding firms and caused scalability and payment default concerns, Complete Farmer continued to advance its solution.
Platforms like Farmcrowdy and Crowdyvest have stopped operating as a result of these problems. Complete Farmer, which began raising a seed round in 2020, realized that investors were not very enthused about agricultural crowdfunding. As a result, it changed to a marketplace and aggregator strategy, much like Thrive Agric, a former crowdfunding platform, which uses one now with great success.
According to Koney, the marketplace approach incorporates the agritech’s expertise working as a contractor and receiving crowd funding. According to him, Complete Farmer discovered it could supply consumers with the required crops by drawing on its connections to thousands of farmers from past platform iterations. From investors and accelerators including Ingressive Capital, EchoVC, Launch Africa, Samurai Incubate, Kepple Ventures, and Norrsken Accelerator, the Accra-based agritech earned $2.2 million for its seed round.
“We realized there was demand and needed to determine how to satisfy it. “One of the most important insights we gained was that for the majority of the large buyers, such as FMCGs and food processors, there was a specific quality they wanted that most African farmers, who were seeking market access and higher yields, lacked,” the CEO noted. “As farmers, they may know how to cultivate soybeans. However, they wouldn’t know how to obtain the specifications that these large buyers desired, such as oil and protein content. So using a data-driven methodology, we developed cultivation protocols that help smallholder farmers farm more efficiently, produce superior commodities and satisfy market demand.”
CF Grower and CF Buyer are the two main solutions that Complete Farmer offers to agricultural commodity producers and buyers. Through precision farming tools and data-driven cultivation procedures, our farmer-focused solution, CF Grower, helps African farmers increase their living standards, increase production, and get access to international markets.
On the other side, CF Buyer offers trustworthy and practical access to commodities developed to customers’ specifications to buyers throughout the world. Buyers have complete control over their procurement process because to the platform’s extensive network of qualified producers, streamlined digital process, and ability to track the status of their orders from purchase to fulfillment in real time. Some of Complete Farmer’s rivals include Khula, Twiga Foods, and Farmerline.
Following the flip two years ago, there has been immediate growth in both users and revenue. According to Complete Farmer, it has been successful in connecting more than 12,000 farmers from Ghana’s five most important areas.
Additionally, the platform has managed the production of more than 30,000 acres of land, supplying commodities to Asia, Europe, and other regions while lowering post-harvest losses. A 30% commission of each trade’s earnings are taken by the six-year-old agritech company.
Additional revenue streams will be created by new product lines, which Complete Farmer needs in order to reach its goals. According to Koney, the agritech is developing an embedded finance product to enable direct payment from purchasers to farmers as well as a vendor platform where farmers can buy fertilizer and other items to improve the productivity of their fields.
A portion of the funding will be utilized to scale these products, create strategic alliances with important stakeholders, develop the team, and extend domestic operations as the agritech company enters its next growth phase. Additionally, it intends to make use of the financing facility to fund CAPEX and working capital expenditures, including growing existing eight fulfillment centers in Ghana and opening new ones in places like Togo.