Kenya’s Apollo Agriculture has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Anthemis to boost the output and earnings of smallholder farmers in Kenya and across Africa.
Apollo Agriculture will use the $6 million in Series A financing to invest in growth in Kenya by hiring great talent, investing in its tech product, and scaling its sales and marketing efforts as well as beef up its lending portfolio.
Founded in 2016, Apollo Agriculture is a mobile-based technology company helping small-scale farmers maximize their profits. It bundles everything a farmer needs: financing, farm inputs, advice, insurance, and market access, when possible. The firm uses satellite data and machine learning to enable better credit decisions, and automated operations keep costs low and processes scalable.
Co-founded by Benjamin Njenga and Eli Pollack, the firm earns a subscription fee on its software as well as margins on financing. Pollak, the CEO, studied engineering at Stanford University and worked for The Climate Corporation in the US before getting into agriculture in Africa. Njenga grew up on a farm in a village in Kenya and experienced the blight of smallholder farming in Africa as his mother was a smallholder farmer.
In 2018, Apollo Agriculture received $500,000 funding from Dutch Development Bank FMO and the Rabobank Foundation, to supply small Kenyan farmers with high-quality farming inputs on credit, crop insurance and voice-based training. Apollo also used the funds to bolster its mobile money, machine learning, and remote sensing technology including satellite data.
Apollo Agriculture was also part of the MetLife Foundation and Visa, Accion and IFC winners of the Inclusive Fintech 50, a competition launched in February to help early-stage fintech companies attract capital and resources to benefit the world’s 3 billion financially underserved people.
The firm was also one of the 18 grantees of the $18.4 million U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program as well as a 2018 finalist of MIT’s Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion.
Accion Venture Lab, Leaps by Bayer, and Flourish Ventures participated in the round. Apart from Apollo, Accion Venture Lab has also invested in Kopo Kopo- a merchants mobile money acceptance and cash advance service and Pula-an agricultural insurance product to smallholder farmers in Africa and India.
In Africa, Accion has invested in Nigeria’s Lidya, an SME e-invoicing and invoice solution. In South Africa, Accion has invested in Lulalend, an online lender for MSMEs and Lumkani-an insurtech company that provides insurance to highly vulnerable, low-income families.