John Deere invests in ag-tech company Hello Tractor to beef-up agri-mechanization capacity in Africa

KENYA – Deere & Company, a U.S. tractor maker, has made a minority investment in Hello Tractor, an ag-tech company based in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of its strategy to boost sales in Africa.

Hello Tractor connects tractor owners with smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia through a farm-equipment-sharing app, which allows farmers to track and manage their fleet, book customers, and access financing options.

“John Deere sees this as an opportunity to support Hello Tractor’s innovative work to provide technologies and solutions to agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia.

“Hello Tractor’s work also aligns with the John Deere Strategy and the Ag & Turf Division’s Leap Ambitions to ensure 100% of new Small Ag equipment is connectivity-enabled by 2026,” said Jason Brantley, Director, Ag & Turf Sales & Marketing – Africa and Asia, at John Deere.

Hello Tractor was among the first group of companies to participate in John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program, launched in 2019 to enhance and deepen Deere’s interaction with startup companies whose technology could add value for customers.

Deere & Co. partnered with the startup in 2020 and outfitted its John Deere tractors with smart devices compatible with Hello Tractor’s app.

“The partnership between Hello Tractor and John Deere has been building since our participation in John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program,” said Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor founder.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to ultimately help drive better economic outcomes for smallholder farmers.”

Hello Tractor has approximately 25 employees and will continue to operate from its current location in Africa.

Last year November, the company launched its pay-as-you-go financing program in partnership with Go Africa, a New York-based startup focused on agribusiness enabled by cutting-edge technology.

Earlier this year, Heifer International announced that it is investing US$1 million in Hello Tractor to provide loans for tractor purchases.

The tractor financing model, Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG), aimed at increasing agricultural productivity in Nigeria has enabled tractor purchases in the states of Nasarawa, Abuja, and Enugu.

Globally, there are roughly 200 tractors per 100 square kilometres of agricultural lands, but in sub-Saharan Africa, there are only about 27.

This is a pointer that agriculture in Africa is heavily under mechanized. Remarkably, Hello Tractor is one of many new agri-tech companies emerging across the continent that are finding business opportunities in tackling this and other farming challenges.

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