Nigerian agro-processing startup clinches US$4.2m funding in series A round led by Goodwell Investments

NIGERIA – Tomato Jos, Nigerian agro-processing company focused on the local production of high-quality tomato paste, has completed a EUR 3.9 million (US$4.2m) Series A funding round led by Goodwell Investments, via its West Africa partner Alitheia Capital with participation from Acumen Capital Partners and VestedWorld.

Tomato Jos was founded by Mira Mehta in 2014 with the vision to create and retain local value-add to the tomato value chain, reduce post-harvest losses, and improve the lives of smallholder farmers.

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Since its inception, Tomato Jos has focused on securing its supply chain through primary production.

According to a press-release statement by Goodwell, the combined €3.9 million funding will boost Tomato Jos’ transition to its next stage of growth which will entail the processing and distribution of tomato products.

The company’s growth plans include the installation of a drip irrigation system and a processing plant that can produce 24 tons of finished products per day.

At scale, Tomato Jos will work with thousands of smallholder farmers on over 2,600 hectares of land, putting more than US$1m of direct income into the local economy each year.

“Processing has always been the plan for Tomato Jos, but to get there, we spent a long five years working only on farming and primary production to make sure that we had a really solid foundation in place”, commented Mira Mehta, founder and CEO of Tomato Jos.

“Everyone at the company is extremely excited to take this big step forward into the world of food processing and value-add production,” the CEO added.

While Nigeria is the second-largest producer of tomatoes on the continent, farming inefficiencies have created a demand-supply gap resulting in Nigeria also being one of the biggest importers of tomato paste in the world.

Tomato Jos aims to increase yields and incomes of the local smallholder tomato farmers it works with, boosting the sector with an improved capacity of farmers, reduced post-harvest losses, and high-quality product.

“With a rapidly growing population driving demand and an increasing focus on improving the sufficiency of the agriculture sector, there is a big opportunity for domestic tomato paste production,” said Mobola da-Silva, Partner at Alitheia, Goodwell’s investment partner in West Africa.

“Tomato Jos has chosen the right market, business model and management to succeed as a truly inclusive business within this environment. As an agro-processing company that sources from local smallholder farmers and provides affordable access to finance in the form of farming inputs to farmers, Tomato Jos is a good fit for uMunthu’s inclusive strategy of investing in agribusiness.”

By connecting local farmers to domestic consumers, Tomato Jos helps to improve the lives and incomes of smallholder farmers and increase the sustainability and stability of food supply in Nigeria.

Tomato Jos directly supports over 70 smallholder farmers across three growing cycles. During this time, smallholder farmers’ average yield has grown by over 340% from 5 to 22 metric tons per hectare, while their average income increased by 455%.

CrossBoundary, a development firm provided advisory support to this transaction through USAID’s INVEST program, funded by the USAID Southern and East Africa Regional Missions in support of the US Government’s Prosper Africa initiative.

The advisory support helped Tomato Jos respond to critical investor questions as part of the due diligence process; and enabled Goodwell Investments, Acumen and other investors to gain further insight into the size of the opportunity and the value that Tomato Jos has created up to this point.

“Acumen Capital Partners is thrilled to join Tomato Jos’ investors to help the company continue to develop a world-class vertically integrated tomato processing operation in Nigeria,” said Tamer El-Raghy, Managing Director of Acumen Capital Partners.

“Tomato Jos is positioned not only to locally produce tomato paste, which is mainly imported into Nigeria but to help Nigerian smallholder farmers increase their income by increasing their yield by 3-4x.”

Jeffrey Stine, Managing Director of VestedWorld and Tomato Jos Board Member remarked, “As investors in the Tomato Jos business since 2017, we are incredibly proud of this dedicated, resilient team and recognize the many obstacles overcome to get us to this point. The addition of Goodwell Investments, Alitheia, and Acumen Capital Partners will be a great resource for this highly impactful company, and we look forward to working with them.”

“I am really excited to partner with investors who understand and care about who Tomato Jos is, what we are trying to accomplish, and why this work matters so much,” noted Mehta.

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