SOUTH AFRICA – New financial services firm AgMerchant Capital, has been launched in South Africa with the aim of being a keen participant in the country’s agricultural financing services industry through the provision of custom-made solutions.

The new financial entity, founded by Chris Venter – former CEO of agricultural services firm Afgri, will specifically focus on creating and managing a financial services operation, and supporting all the stakeholders in the South African agricultural value chain.

AgMerchant aims to provide the entire value chain with financial support, backed by innovative, digitised and long-term sustainable financial service solutions.

“The South African agricultural industry is critical to the continued growth of the economy, as well as to food security and job creation, and is expected to maintain and grow its food export capabilities, contributing to a positive trade balance.

“It is thus essential that the industry should be supported by a robust and focused commercial agricultural lender,” says Chris with 30 years’ experience in financial services and agriculture

Changes in the agricultural finance landscape, some of which were brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past three years, support this viewpoint. In addition, we have

Launch of the financial firm comes at a time Land Bank, government owned development bank and the biggest lender to farmers in South Africa, has been re-assessing its role as a commercial farmer financier.

“We believe there is room for a financier that understands the cyclicality of the industry and an entity that can finance the flow of the commodity rather than just relying on the strength of the balance sheet of the farmer.

“Therefore, it is our intention to provide the entire agricultural value chain with financial support to assist the sector in receiving the support it needs to grow and thrive,” Chris notes.

AgMerchant was established with a long-term investment focus and an understanding of the importance of food certainty in South Africa.

It has the necessary licences and regulatory registrations to finance the agricultural market. It already supports customers with foreign exchange, and asset and commodity finance and is constantly adding to its product offering.

Further, the company says it will be able to quickly react to what clients in the sector need, with efficient decision-making that can assist those who need rolling financial support.

“Like all businesses, the people involved are the most important element of success. It was therefore important to put a team of highly qualified and experienced people together; people who understand banking and finance but also have many years of experience in the agricultural market.

“It is exciting to build a company and position a new brand with an excellent team in the current agricultural sector and the opportunities it offers,” Chris highlights.

He believes the agricultural sector is critical to the well-being of South Africa, not only in pursuit of enabling job creation but also for food security and the ability to earn forex for the South African fiscus.

AgMerchant forms part of a group of companies founded by Sovereign Capital, which has as its passion supporting food certainty on the African continent.

Part of the group is an online e-commerce platform for farmers that already offers more than 400 000 products.

Further, AgMarket will continue to expand its digital warehouse offering for it to eventually include all products required by farmers to produce food.

Both AgMarket and AgMerchant are supported by a technology company, AgXchange, which focuses on digitalisation in the agricultural sector, Venter highlights.

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