Agriculture, at scale, has relied on technology, in some form or other, for hundreds of years. However, digital technology is fast becoming increasingly essential in facilitating productivity through various innovations, in one of the world’s oldest industries.
Enter Farmcrowdy – a Nigerian digital agritech startup that is revolutionizing the local agriculture sector by connecting small-scale farmers with Nigerian sponsors from locally, from the US and UK who invest in farm cycles. Launched just over 12 months ago, they connect small scale farmers with sponsors, who invest in farm cycles which can be anything from poultry [3-5 months] to cassava [9mths]. The farmers receive on-the-ground advice and training from agriculture experts in better agricultural practices, different type of crops and production methods. Farmers and sponsors all receive a percentage of the profits on harvest.
By connecting more than 2,000 small-scale farmers with over 1,000 unique sponsors through the startup’s website and newly launched mobile app in Google Playstore, and Apple Appstore, Farmcrowdy has built a community model that allows Nigerians to venture into farming and agriculture at the touch of a button, while empowering local farmers, and boosting production and security of food for Nigeria. The startup is not only positively impacting the lives of local farmers and their families, but making a profit for farm sponsors and investors.
Graduates of Techstars Atlanta’s 2017 cohort, Farmcrowdy this week closed on a $1 Million seed investment round from Cox Enterprises, Techstars Ventures, Social Capital, Hallett Capital and Right-Side Capital; as well as angel investors Tyler Scriven, Michael Cohn, Josephine Group, FC Agro Allied SPV and Dr. Christof Walter.
Mfonobong Nsehe spoke to serial entrepreneur, Onyeka Akumah, CEO and Co-Founder of Farmcrowdy on their plans for this investment round and what this means for the agritech sector not only in Nigeria but potentially West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
Farmcrowdy has only been operating for a year, yet you have made quite an impact, both with users and investors. Tell us more about the vision behind Farmcrowdy and what you do?
Farmcrowdy was established in November 2016 after mulling over challenges within the agriculture sector that I had witnessed a couple of years ago. At around the same the Government of Nigeria was looking into ways in which resources could be channeled to boost the agriculture sector. The Nigerian Government was also looking at ways in which individuals could contribute to the agriculture sector as a means of improving food security and food production.
With an early interest in agriculture (and small-scale farming in particular), and having started my first business venture as a 12 year old running a 200 chick poultry farm in Sokoto, Nigeria, I noticed that as much as the middle-class Nigerian is excited about getting involved in agriculture, unfortunately they do not have the time, or experience and skill to invest successfully in the sector. They do however, possess the resources. It was a question of understanding how these resources could be channeled in a way that both positively impacts the lives of the over 38 million small-scale farmers in Nigeria who have extra farmlands, but do not have the finances to expand their farm operations. We set out to bridge this gap and build this marketplace by setting up Farmcrowdy.