Aruwa Capital invests in Nigerian hibiscus processor Agroeknor International

NIGERIA – AgroEknor International, a Nigerian fast-growing hibiscus flower exporter and wellness brand has clinched an early-stage growth equity investment from Aruwa Capital Management.

AgroEknor, founded in 2013 is primarily engaged in the processing and exportation of dried hibiscus flowers, a superfood and wellness product.

This funding is aimed to accelerate the company’s growth and expansion in select Asian, European and North American markets where it already has key clients.

It will also enable it to acquire certifications for global food, safety and hygiene, while further spearheading its plans to digitise the value chain.

The digitization will entail an integrated backend process from sourcing to export, and investment in digital infrastructure to enable the scale-up in home market.

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“We believe our partnership with Aruwa will propel us in the right direction of consolidating our market share and operating with the best international standards. In our view, this partnership positions the company for exponential growth as we look to cement our position as a market leader across all of our markets.

“We are very excited to partner with the Aruwa team and are grateful for Aruwa’s partnership and belief in our vision as our first institutional equity investor. We look forward to working together with the team to execute our vision of processing and exporting high-value cash crops that are advantageously grown in Nigeria,” Ayo Oke, CEO of AgroEknor said.

All flowers are sourced locally in Nigeria, processed in house, and exported all year round to international clients in the food and beverage industry, where it is typically used as a flavouring in healthy teas and other drinks.

The product is also used in the pharmaceutical industry, where it is utilised in immunity-boosting and high blood pressure medicines.

AgroEknor has significant control over all aspects of its value chain including planting, harvesting, drying, packaging and exporting.

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Since inception, it has exported 15,000 tons of hibiscus and is well-positioned to significantly increase its output in the years to come.

This will be achieved courtesy of its direct connection to farming communities across Nigeria, its impressive order book from existing and new clients and its focus on backward integration and tech-enabled value chain solutions.

AgroEknor’s vision is to move further down the value chain, by making healthy products readily available to the retail consumer.

The global hibiscus market is expected to grow by 7.5% annually between 2021 and 2025 to US$490 million with growth in consumption driven by a preference for a healthy lifestyle.

Nigeria is increasingly important to the global supply chain of hibiscus and is growing faster than the global market due to the global preference for Nigeria’s healthier, non-GMO hibiscus varieties and the unmet demand in the market for non-GMO hibiscus.

Global non-GMO demand is expected to grow by 12.5% per annum for the next four years outstripping overall demand for hibiscus as consumers demand non-GMO in wellness products.

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder & Managing Partner of Aruwa Capital said, “We are excited to have completed this investment in AgroEknor. We see significant value in the company’s long term growth potential within the rapidly growing global food processing market and pent-up demand for AgroEknor’s health-based products.

“The Company has also shown significant growth in volumes exported year on year and has demonstrated an ability to operate profitably.”

In line with Aruwa’s gender lens investing strategy, AgroEknor has trained over 3,000 women in hibiscus post-harvest best practices, which in turn, empowered these women to provide for their respective families in Northern Nigeria.

Additionally, since 2017, 69% of the 1,600 smallholder farmers trained on post-harvest operations and safety were women.

Finally, all the employees directly involved in the company’s processing facility in Kano State are women.

“We are so excited about the women’s economic empowerment that will occur as a result of the planned expansion. We look forward to working with the team and contributing to their continued success in the years ahead,” added Adesuwa.

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