Thrive Agric is an agro-tech startup which is among the 12 startups selected for the Google Launchpad Accelerator. We interviewed Uka Eje, the co-founder and CEO of Thrive Afric. He shares his reaction to the selection of his startup as a participant in the accelerator and much more. Excerpts
About Thrive Agric
My name is Uka Eje, a farmer and Co-Founder and CEO of Thrive Agric. At Thrive Agric we work with smallholder farmers to provide them with the best inputs and machinery for their farms, data-driven advisory and access to premium markets. The finance to facilitate this is crowd funded and offers the funders regular updates on all farming activities and returns on the harvest. We started out in 2016 in beta stage but fully launched publicly in July of 2017.
The motivation for setting up Thrive Agric
I and my Co-founder, fresh out of school were faced with data of post-harvest losses farmers faced and we spent four years focused on building a supply chain for farmers in northern Nigeria, linking them to processing companies across the country. During this process, we discovered farmers had three major challenges which were finance for their farms, access to better inputs, low yield from their farms because of insufficient data to help improve their yield and access to premium markets. On the other hand were urban dwelling Nigerians excited about agriculture but without the time and skill making entry barrier too high. We decided to fix this by building a platform that connects both parties and the result is Thrive Agric today.
Business so far
It has been amazing so far; in the last four months alone we have grown 10X by all the metrics we use to measure our success and impact. Farmers are making more yields which translate to more money and the people who fund these farmers are making exciting returns also.
Being selected to participate in Google Launchpad accelerator
We are excited about the Google Launchpad accelerator, the learnings have been amazing especially as we consider the potential of technology in scaling crop production and easing the process of agriculture; from farmer, aggregation to harvest. Also meeting with other teams across Africa gives clearer insights on the problems faced in the continent and how we can better position ourselves to tackle these problems with our solution.
For us, it has been mostly about considering what challenges to take up and what to delay. The opportunity in the Agriculture space is huge and you want to ensure you stay focused to deliver on your core goals. However, what we have been focused on has been how to use best technology tools to easily and effectively manage and aggregate farmers.
Increasing interest in Agriculture
True, a lot of interest has been springing so far, especially weighing from government interventions, international organizations and other stakeholders that have helped to make agriculture a secured option for investment, all these drives a lot of entry. Also, there is a lot of information about the potential in agriculture and when you think of the estimated 9 billion people in the world by 2050, it gives a strong business case too. Concerning competition, our focus has always been on how best we can optimize our product for our users, in this case, the farmers and the people who fund them. And also we are building an infrastructure layer to allow others join us in solving food insecurity in Africa.
We intend to spread across Africa, working with over a million farmers and using technology to help build their dreams.
Advise for upcoming entrepreneurs
Invest time in building yourself and translate that knowledge effectively in building your team. Also, be aggressive about growth, however, staying focused is key!