Local agritech startup secures $1.5-million in funding

South African agritecth startup, swiftVEE has secured $1.5-million in an investment round led by Subtropico Ltd, an unlisted public company specialising in Agri investments across the fruit, vegetable, and livestock industries and a private syndicate.

swiftVEE has secured $1.5-million in a Series A investment round

The funding will be used to expand the agritech’s offering within South Africa and neighbouring countries including Namibia and Botswana.

With the new investment, swiftVEE will be included on Zire, South Africa’s first multi-industry agricultural services platform that will provide technology services to industry stakeholders in the livestock, fruit, and vegetable sector. Leveraging off Zire, which is expected to launch in 2021, swiftVEE will be able to extend its market share to new customers across multiple industries.

In an interview with Ventureburn, Russel Luck, chief executive officer, comments on the funding received and the conditions of Covid-19 in generating innovation in the agritech sector.

“The investment and growth of swiftVEE demonstrates a significant change in attitude within the agricultural sector. Traditional Agribusinesses appear to have recognised the importance of re-inventing themselves as COVID accelerates the rate at which agriculture moves towards the fourth industrial revolution. In the age of new-normal the door has been opened for technology start-ups to create a new narrative.”

swiftVEE’s innovative technology

Founded in 2016 and officially launching in 2017, swiftVEE is a livestock trading platform that connects online buyers to livestock auctions for real-time purchases in low-latency areas such as farmlands.

Luck provides insight into the mission of swiftVEE.

“Our aim is to optimise trade between the buyers and sellers of livestock with the use of artificial intelligence technology and bring foreign livestock buyers to South African markets. By pursuing this aim, we solve bigger problems caused by a lack of trading efficiency within the livestock trading sector (problems such as resource scarcity / food insecurity / global hunger).”

Utilising machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, swifeVEE matches buyers, and sellers at optimal times that maximise market efficiency.

The local agritech startup has innovated the traditional method of livestock purchasing, digitizing the auction process with online, real-time auction capabilities for the livestock agents and farmers located across the globe.

Commenting on the use of cutting-edge technology, Luck explains what makes swiftVEE stand apart from other leading competitors.

”We are the founders of real-time online livestock trading in South Africa which were never successfully achieved because of the difficulties of doing real-time bidding over the internet while auctions were happening at farms (with no connectivity). Our major differentiator since day one is our use of machine learning and AI. which maps market pricing and the sales prices of animal breeds in certain areas to connect buyers and sellers at optimal times and locations.”

The digital platform is dedicated to livestock agents and ensures that livestock agents are not omitted from the value chain process.

Luck explains that regardless of the challenges faced by the pandemic, the local startup has managed to reach new heights.

“Despite the economic difficulties caused by COVID and pre-existing recession in South Africa, swiftVEE broke two South African records for the most expensive Simbra Bull sold in SA for R 270 000.00 and a Boran Bull sold for R 1 700 000.00. The latter is being reviewed as a Guinness World Record.”

swifeVEE plans to expand into the Sub-Saharan, USA, and Europe markets at the start of 2022.

Read more: Kenyan agritech startup secures $220 000 funding
Read more: Agritech innovation fund worth $50 000 open for applications

Featured image: swiftVEE group (Supplied) 

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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