Kenyan agtech Shamba Pride raises $3.7M to grow its merchant network | TechCrunch

Shamba Pride has since 2016 worked to enhance last-mile distribution for farm inputs and tackle price exploitation and quality issues for farmers through its merchant network dubbed digishops.

The agtech has, so far, built a network of 2,700 merchants (agro-dealers) extending across 24 counties in Kenya, which represents just over half of the country. It now plans to scale further into the country to cover more retailers and agricultural regions in the next one year, and later explore neighboring markets like Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, which have similar farm input supply chain challenges, like sourcing, unpredictable prices, quality challenges and stockouts.

Its Kenya growth, which also includes the expansion of its franchise network, will be fueled by a $3.7 million debt-equity pre-series A funding the company has secured from the EU agriculture financing initiative EDFI AgriFI and Seedstars Africa Ventures (SAV). The new funding, which includes $1.7 million equity, follows $1.1 million capital raised in 2021 from SAV and Gray Matters Capital.

Shamba Pride digitizes agro-dealers to power various tasks including business management and inventory ordering, which ensures the availability of supplies like fertilizers and seeds to millions of small-scale farmers in rural areas.

“Agriculture distribution in rural communities is heavily controlled by agro-dealers who decide how farmers access inputs, services and training. We are empowering these agro-dealers by giving them the right tools and technology for visibility of their businesses, for their professional and commercial development and right support for farmers around them,” Shamba Pride founder and CEO, Samuel Munguti, told TechCruch.

The agtech also provides farmers with market linkages, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) financial services and training information through its USSD platform.

It mainly targets small-scale farmers that are part of Kenya’s agriculture sector, which contributes 33% of the country’s gross domestic product, employs over 40% of the country’s population and more than 70% of those in rural settings. It also accounts for 65% of its export earnings, making it a key sector of the country’s economy and a focus area for innovators.

“Shamba Pride’s success is based on innovations which facilitate day-to-day farming activities. We’ve been proud to support a scalable model which creates additional revenues for farmers and agrovets (agro-dealers) and strongly contributes to successful women entrepreneurship,” said Maxime Bouan, a general partner at SAV, which last week received $30 million and $10.5 million from EIB and AFDB, respectively.

SAV is a sector-agnostic fund keen on startups that address basic needs such as education, healthcare and utilities, or enhancing goods, services and efficiency.

Shamba Pride sources inventory from partners such as French multinational Elephant Verve that supplies it with “climate-smart” farm inputs, which is part of the agtech’s strategy to build resilience for small-holder farmers.

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