SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa-based venture development and investment company, Founders Factory Africa has partnered Small Foundation to provide a platform that will design, build and scale over 18 agri-tech startups on the continent.

Founders Factory, which originally launched in London in 2015 and has already built more than 70 startups, launched African operations in Johannesburg in 2018, from where it plans to design, build and scale 140 disruptive tech startups across Africa.

The company brought its model to Africa in partnership with Standard Bank, and subsequently secured backing from Netcare to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to build and scale e-health startups across Africa. So far Founders Factory Africa has invested in and supported more than 23 ventures, which collectively have raised over US$7 million following their time in the programme.

It is now moving into the agri-tech space with its latest investor Small Foundation, a philanthropic foundation based in Ireland with the mission of eradicating extreme poverty in Africa by catalysing income-generating opportunities, reports Disrupt Africa.

“This is a pivotal time to invest in the growing area of agri-tech in Africa, which has transformative potential for local livelihoods.”

Conor Brosnan – Chief executive officer (CEO) and chair of Small Foundation.

Together, Founders Factory Africa and Small Foundation will support over 18 agri-tech startups from across Sub-Saharan Africa with their ideas and ventures to address challenges across the entire agricultural value chain.

As part of the Small Foundation investment, African early-stage agri-tech entrepreneurs can apply to join the Founders Factory Africa Venture Scale or Venture Build programmes, with Founders Factory Africa investing cash of between US$100,000 and US$250,000 and providing hands-on technical support to the entrepreneurs to grow their ventures.

Small Foundation will work with Founders Factory Africa ventures, providing access to networks, entrepreneurs and investors.

“This is a pivotal time to invest in the growing area of agri-tech in Africa, which has transformative potential for local livelihoods. We are excited to see Founders Factory Africa’s highly-skilled team work with immensely talented African entrepreneurs to deliver scaled solutions to some of the biggest challenges faced by the sector,” said Conor Brosnan, chief executive officer (CEO) and chair of Small Foundation.

Roo Rogers, CEO of Founders Factory Africa, said technology can create and leverage new information, new tools, new ways of conceptualising, predicting, and working for a smarter, cleaner and more productive future.

“The potential is massive and is ready to be supported. Together ourselves and Small Foundation will find and support agri-tech ventures that can be sustained, scaled and, ultimately, impact rural livelihoods,” he said.

USAID unveils US$3m agriculture and food industry financing in Nigeria

Meanwhile in Nigeria, USAID has launched the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, which will offer US$3 million in funding and technical assistance to Nigerian companies mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s agri-food systems.

USAID is looking to collaborate with commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies that are already operating in food production, processing, or distribution across Nigeria.

The COVID-19 Food Security Challenge anticipates awarding 15 to 25 companies up to US$75,000 each and 10 to 15 mid-stage companies up to US$150,000 each.

The winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their food production or food security activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic.

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