KENYA – Victory Farms, a Kenya-based aquaculture platform, has received US$35 million (Sh4.7 billion) from venture capital (VC) investors in a Series B funding round to expand its operations in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Victory Farms provides a climate-smart, profitable, and scalable solution to Africa’s nutritional security challenges by connecting producers, distributors, and consumers of tilapia fish.
The Series B round was led by Creadev, a global VC and growth equity evergreen investor controlled by the Mulliez Family. Other participating investors include Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund, DOB Equity, Endeavor Catalyst Fund, and Hesabu Capital.
Victory Farms founder and chief executive Joseph Rehmann, who also invested in the transaction, said the investment will enable Victory Farms to scale up its platform for sustainable, affordable protein production and expand our food print within the region.
The East African Region, according to the startup, has a fish supply deficit that has become one of the greatest supply-demand imbalances in the global food system today.
Regional governments estimate that local aquaculture industry supplies meet only 3% of the demand, leaving a supply gap of more than 1 million metric tons of fish per annum.
Data from the State Department of Fisheries cited by Business Daily shows that Kenya imported 14.8 million kilograms of fish from China last year, valued at Sh2 billion, up from Sh1.5 billion in the previous period. This has increased China’s market share from 70 percent in 2020 to 83 percent.
Victory Farms was launched in mid-2016, having its hatchery, nursery ponds, and deep-water cages in Lake Victoria plus a processing plant, to serve a market with about a US$1.5 billion fish deficit.
The company said its technology produces more fish and drives down costs simultaneously for the thousands of market women who buy fish in small batches to cook and sell in local food markets.
Rehmann explained that the platform sells fish via a highly innovative RTM cold chain, which uses predictive data to push fish to thousands of market ladies every day across Kenya, with less than 1% spoilage.
The end-to-end aquaculture platform operating in East Africa currently operates 80 branches and is eyeing to build a commercial tilapia platform that can feed millions of Africans with affordable, accessible, and healthy protein over the next two decades.
The company expects to launch its aquafeed mill joint venture Samakgro later this year to enable local procurement of 35,000 metric tons of feed ingredients yearly.
The feed mill is under construction in Naivasha and will operate fully on renewable energy and create more than 40,000 jobs in the regional agriculture sector.
In May last year, the aquaculture startup also raised another US$5 million to facilitate its expansion in Rwanda, DRC, and Tanzania.
It was the startup’s first institutional investment following seven internal angel rounds from the same set of equity–and debt investors (it raised US$40 million in debt in 2021).