Kenyan start-up Twiga Foods has secured $10 million investment from World Bank’s investment arm, the International Finance Corporation and TLcom Capital.
Twiga Foods connects smallholder farmers in rural areas to informal retail vendors in cities. The startup uses a mobile platform to match supply and demand, aggregating market participants and finding buyers for farmers’ produce in Africa’s large, but highly fragmented fruit and vegetable market.
Twiga’s m-commerce platform enables vendors to order fresh produce, as and when needed, from farmers across Kenya.
Other investors that have partnered in this round of investment include Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, Wamda Capital, DOB Equity, 1776 and Adolph H. Lundin. As part of the deal, Wale Ayeni, who leads IFCs’ venture capital activities in Africa, and Maurizio Caio, Managing Partner at TLcom will join the board.
“The investment will enable us reach more farmers, improve efficiency in service delivery and increase access to high quality produce and foodstuffs for vendors,” said Grant Brooke, CEO Twiga Foods.
Twiga will use the new investment to expand operations and offer new services. Since it launched operations in 2014, Twiga has grown to work with over 13,000 farmers and 6,000 vendors in Kenya.
The company initially started off matching vendors to banana farmers, but now works with other produce such as tomatoes, cabbage, mango, potato and onion. Farmers who sign up with Twiga receive payment within 24 hours.
The company operates collection centers across the country, in addition to a central pack house with cold storage facilities, and mobilized trucks and vans for swift collection and distribution of produce.
The smooth logistics system limits Twiga’s post-harvest losses to five percent, as compared to 30 percent at informal markets, where farmers typically sell produce.
“Access to markets is a key concern for smallholder farmers across Africa, many of whom live in remote areas. IFC’s investment in Twiga supports a disruptive startup that is helping create a more transparent, efficient supply chain, which connects farmers directly to markets, helping them earn more,” said Nikunj Jinsi, IFC’s Global head of Venture Capital.