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Lagos-based agritech startup Releaf has secured $2.7-million in a seed funding round led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers with participation from Stephen Pagliuca, Chairman of Bain Capital and Justin Kan (Twitch).
In addition to this seed funding, the innovative agritech startup secured $1.5-million in grants from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID.
Releaf has secured $4.2-million
Ikenna Nzewi, CEO and co-founder of Releaf comments on the funding secured.
“Our mandate is to industrialize Africa’s food processing industry. This round of funding enables us to develop and prove our technology with smallholder farmers in the oil palm sector. Given Nigerians spend ~60 percent of their income on food and Africa’s population is set to increase by 100,000 people per day over the next three decades, we’re presented with an incredible opportunity to feed more people, reduce consumer costs, and supply the fastest-growing food market in the world. Releaf is committed to harnessing technology to accelerate the economic wealth of rural, agrarian societies throughout the Continent. We firmly believe that a robust real economy is the foundation for long-lasting and shared prosperity for Africans and are excited to deepen partnerships with like-minded organizations, governments, and firms.”
According to reports, the seed funding will help the startup to further develop industrial food processing technology in the country’s smallholder-driven Oil Palm sector.
The grant will assist the agritech startup in providing working capital and other services for smallholder farmers and small scale processors. Not only will the funding be used for this but also to support the training, recruitment and retention of more women and young individuals in Nigeria’s Oil Palm sector to facilitate the creation of digital and technical jobs.
Founded in 2017, the agritech startup creates and operates proprietary food processing hardware and software solutions to reduce post-harvest loss in the oil palm sector. Overall this has positive implications for smallholder farmers and processors in the oil palm sector in Nigeria.
The startup essentially is the middle man between smallholder farmers and food manufacturing companies with its innovative proprietary patent-pending machinery titled Kraken. According to reports, this machinery has the ability to process any quality of palm nut into premium quality inputs for food factories.
On the software side, the agritech startup is able to connect over 2000 smallholder farmers with food manufacturers. Through the use of its platform, the agritech startup receives supply requests from farmers via the use of USSD and the platform is used to also provide these smallholder farmers with working capital.
Rena Yoneyama, Managing Partner at Samurai Incubate Africa who led the round of funding comments on the innovative solution that the agritech startup has to the current oil palm production industry in Nigeria.
“Releaf’s novel approach to operating within the value chain with proprietary technology set it aside from many agtech startups we have spoken to. We believe the firm’s thesis on decentralizing food processing would have a strong match with Africa’s economic development landscape for the next few decades. Ikenna and Uzo are the perfect founders to disrupt this market in Nigeria and beyond. We are thrilled to back them as they innovate in providing both agro-processing and financial services to rural communities and farmers.”
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Featured image: Relief co-founders, (Supplied)