Owner of EthioChicken clinches US$14m funding for expansion across Africa

AFRICA – Flow Equity, a high impact poultry business targeting underserved rural households in Eastern Africa, has raised a combined US$ 14 million funding round to grow its operations across the region.

Flow Equity, operates in Ethiopia via its investment in EthioChicken, and Rwanda and Uganda via its subsidiary Uzima Chicken.

The company’s primary product is high-yielding day-old chicks (DOC), sold in a package including feed and vaccines to its network of trained agents who grow the chicks for a month to produce healthy, vaccinated pullets and cockerels that are then sold to smallholder farmers.

Their world-renowned breeds produce 3–4 times more eggs in comparison to local chickens and reach over 2kg in three months in the village environment, representing at least a 3x gain in productivity for smallholder farmers.

Its inclusive distribution model and proven breeds enable Flow Equity to meet the fast-growing demand for protein among the mass market at the bottom of the pyramid.

In Ethiopia, EthioChicken was launched in 2010 and has become an industry leader selling over 25 million chickens per year.

The company has received support from players such as the IFC, and FinnFund, as well as global recognition including the 2018 Boldness in Business Award from the Financial Times and is one of the only poultry companies in Africa to achieve Global GAP accreditation.

Building from the success of EthioChicken, the company launched Uzima Chicken in 2017 entering Rwanda and Uganda respectively.

Early last year, AgDevCo, UK based social impact investor made a US$3.0 million follow-on mezzanine debt investment into the poultry company.

With over 100% dual-purpose poultry market growth in both countries, it is witnessing strong market penetration supported by its 1,000+ Agent and 500k+ farmers’ network.

Seeking to replicate these successful business models, the company is set to enter new markets in Africa with the goal to materially uplift the lives of between 5 to 10 million smallholder farmers each year by improving nutrition and creating income opportunities.

This will be made possible courtesy of the recent funding the company has received from AgDevCo, AHL Venture Partners, Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 “We started the company with the mission to make farmers healthier and wealthier, and this investment will enable us to reach many more farmers across sub-Saharan Africa,” said David Ellis co-founder of Flow Equity.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate (33%) in the world of children under the age of five who face stunting due to food insecurity and protein shortage.

Eggs and poultry meat are among the most complete and affordable sources of high-quality animal protein for rural households.

Co-founder Joseph Shields said, “We are very proud to supply dual-purpose poultry that is perfect for the smallholder farmer in our markets in Africa.

“The chicken is resistant to disease and highly productive for both meat and egg production compared to the local chicken.

“Our model requires less feed per kg of meat or egg produced, which is critical in this period of high grain prices and reduces the environmental impact from animal farming.”

Flow Equity’s unique business model also has a significant impact on the climate resilience of smallholder farmers.

Adopting dual-purpose poultry helps farmers increase, and diversify their sources of, income and reduce their income volatility which helps farmers adapt to climate change.

By 2026, the company plans to indirectly create over 30,000 jobs including agents and village ambassadors, reach millions of smallholder farmer households and increase their income by US$200 million per year.

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