Kenyan Agritech Start-up Apollo Agriculture receives USD 500K from Dutch FMO and Rabobank Foundation
By Rolex Owino
Apollo Agriculture, a Kenyan start-up that is in the business of making high-quality farming inputs available to small Kenyan farmers on credit, as well as enhancing their operations by providing them with crop insurance and voice-based training– has received a financial boost through the concerted efforts of Dutch FMO and Rabobank Foundation. This latest investment into the Agro-based start-up is valued at USD 500K in total, and it is expected to facilitate the growth of the Kenyan start-up, as well as spur its expansion plans.
FMO’s MASSIF Fund accounts for one half of the invested funds, as it has provided the sum of USD 250K in the form of a convertible grant – to Apollo Agriculture. The Dutch investment fund focuses on taking early high-investment risks and catalysing the growth of the private financial sector and financial inclusion in developing countries. Rabobank Foundation, on its part, has contributed a loan of USD 250K. This sees the Kenyan start-up rake in a considerable sum in funding, which is targeted at funding farmers’ harvesting cycles – bringing about further developments in credit models and expanding into other demographics and geographical zones.
Central to Apollo Agriculture’s blueprint is a business model which incorporates a unique ‘high-tech, low-touch’ dynamic, which leverages advances in mobile money, machine learning, remote sensing technology, and satellite data. These are believed to be responsible for the bulk of the startup’s operations. As pointed out by Eli Pollak, CEO Apollo Agriculture, upon the ratification of the receipt of the funds, “funding from FMO and Rabobank Foundation will allow us to expand our lending reach and will greatly accelerate our rate of learning. The more loans we extend and the more data we gather, the more effective our credit model becomes at predicting default. Joint support from FMO and Rabobank Foundation is a tremendous asset in this effort, and we are thrilled to have found such an aligned partnership with two organisations at the forefront of agricultural development finance.”
Jeroen Harteveld, FMO’s Fund Manager of MASSIF, holds similar opinions and convictions on the latest development. According to him, “Apollo Agriculture is well-aligned with the aims of MASSIF in providing access to finance for entrepreneurs in low-income countries, with a particular focus on rural areas.” He reiterated that the ideals of his company, which largely focuses on financing FinTech companies that have inclusive business models, are in tandem with that of the Kenyan start-up, which he identifies as the motive for assisting the young company in its bid to support small farmers by optimising their produce and improving their livelihoods.
Albert Boogaard, Rabobank Foundation’s Innovation Head, is quoted as saying: “Apollo Agriculture is unique in that it combines a tech-driven approach with strong local knowledge. The combination of different services results in a new business model for farmer finance that has the potential to reduce both the risks and operational costs of lending significantly and at scale. Building analytical models on remote sensing, amongst others, helps to reach previously unbanked farmers. This approach sits well with the innovation strategy of the Rabobank Foundation.” The new injection of capital by the duo is expected to assist the Kenyan start-up in the implementation of its expansion plans, whilst helping it bolster its ranks and brace up for the increased demands that will accompany the implementation of these plans – a feat that should see the company reach out to more small farmers in different parts of Kenya.
Source: African Strategic-Ventures (ASV) & Wee-tracker