Kenyan agritech startup Apollo seeks to up reach after raising US$40 million in series B round

KENYA – Kenyan agri-tech startup Apollo Agriculture has clinched US$40 million in its Series B funding round, led by Softbank Vision Fund 2.

The round also saw participation by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Yara Growth Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, CDC, and current investors like Anthemis Exponential Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Leaps by Bayer, SBI, Breyer Capital, and TO Ventures Food.

The firm says it plans to use the funding to double the number of farmers it is serving by the end 2022. As of last year, Apollo had worked with 100,000 farmers.

The company is also looking to introduce other products that deliver more value per acre of land, while refining its technology and deliver more products and services to farmers.

“We are continuing to invest in growing fast, serving more farmers, helping them grow their acreage and really hitting the acceleration on the business. And so that’ll be both continued expansion across Kenya but also expansion into new markets,” Apollo Agriculture co-founder and CEO Eli Pollak, said.

Launched in 2017, Apollo builds credit profiles for small-scale farmers using machine learning models.

The startup then uses the data to build automated digital processes for each step in a farmer’s life cycle, from customer acquisition through training to collecting the payment.

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Its product offering is a bundle comprising of everything a farmer needs i.e., financing, farm inputs, advice, insurance, and market access, when possible.

The agricultural technology company began by assisting maize farmers, but its primary focus has been on assisting them in diversifying into other high-yielding crops.

“We began with maize. Maize is not perfect, but it has a profound advantage, which is that nearly every farmer plants it across East Africa. This gives us a place where we can earn farmer’s trust and we can deliver value immediately.

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“We believe that the pathway from subsistence farming to farming as a business means partnering with that farmer and using our machine learning models to identify the farmers with the best prospects of graduating to higher-profitability crops,” said Pollak.

Since the close of its US$6 million series A in 2020, Apollo has grown 10 times, accelerated by product financing.

The agritech has also received over US$16 million in debt funding over the years for onward lending to small scale farmers.

Late last year, the company secured a US$9.5 million loan from the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

The financing came months after it clinched a US$1 million debt funding from the Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund).

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