Farmshine, a Nairobi based agritech start-up that focuses on helping women subsistence farmers realize more income through smart ways has raised funding to help bolster its activities in East Africa.
Farmshine teaches farmers climate-smart agriculture techniques and helping them secure higher contract prices for their produce and has received funding of USD 250,000 from the US-based impact investor Gray Matters Capital’s which will aid in the hiring and training of field agents, and to further develop the platform to connect the agriculture ecosystem.
The funding marks the second investment by the impact investor in the agri-tech space in Kenya after previously funding B2B start-up Taimba in July this year as the fifth African start-up added to its portfolio which includes Rwanda’s ARED, Ghana’s Redbird Health Tech and Nigeria’s Sonocare in the last two years.
Farmshine’s agriculture operating system enables smallholder farmers to aggregate and sell their harvests directly to large commodity companies. Initially, this was not possible as there was no ways to exchange accurate information on buyers’ contract offers or to ensure the trust needed for buyers and farmers.
With 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 for transparency between the parties including contract agreement, production management, crop aggregation, and delivery and payment.
“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.” said Luca Allinovi, Farmshine’s founder and CEO.
The platform is putting into consideration to introduce its agriculture operating system to United Nations and NGO organizations in Kenya, and plans to expand to other African countries in 2020.
Many of these organizations provide training and agricultural support to farmers, but lack the management and data analysis capabilities by connecting their farmers to the buyers on Farmshine’s platform, these organizations can provide farmers with a sustainable trading solution that continues even after the project has ended
Outlining the investment rationale, Jennifer Soltis, Portfolio Manager – collabs, 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% 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.”
“In addition to growing more crops and receiving higher prices, women will receive an economic identity and trade history”, she added.
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.
Already the company has started investing in 1,000 farmers located in a remote area with very good agriculture potential for sesame seeds in the asian markets and once the farmers have achieved the required quality standards, Farmshine will link them to the largest Japanese buyer of sesame.
Farmshine also, is in an advanced stage of establishing sales points within supermarkets to directly link consumers to farmers, ensuring substantially higher revenue to farmer and lower cost products for consumers.