Agrocenta: Story, Founders, Investors & Funding Rounds
AgroCenta was founded by two ex-esoko employees, Francis Obirikorang and Michael K. Ocansey in 2015 to improve the agricultural value chain in Ghana by solving two critical problems rural-based smallholder farmers faced namely, access to market and access to finance, be it formal or informal.
The lack of access to structured markets results in smallholder farmers being forced to sell to middlemen who buy at ridiculously exploitative prices.
The lack of access to finance also means farmers are never able to move from being smallholders to middle-level or even commercial farmers.
AgroCenta operates a mobile merchanting platform that provides market information, storage and delivery solutions, and financial services to smallholder farmers in Ghana.
Since its launch, registered farmers on AgroCenta’s app, CropChain, have rapidly grown from 3,000 to over 46,000, mainly handling white and yellow maize, rice, soybean, cowpeas, and sorghum.
Poor infrastructure and logistics prevent many smallholder farmers in Ghana from accessing large, urban markets where they could obtain better prices for their crops.
Many of these farmers lack information on fair market prices, which leaves them susceptible to selling at low prices to middlemen.
Without a strong credit history, many of them also have limited access to finance for purchasing high-quality agricultural inputs that would enable them to scale beyond subsistence production.
The digital services AgroCenta provides along the selected cereals value chain also improve the repayment of loans by smallholder farmers.
The services provide farmers with an end market through the offtaking of produce and through facilitating the provision of high-quality agricultural inputs, which maximize their yields and productivity.
To date, the average farmer on CropChain has increased their income by 35 percent and their crop yields by 40 percent, while reducing their food waste by 25 percent.
AgroCenta has also made strides to promote gender and social inclusion; nearly half of its CropChain users and more than half of its microloan borrowers on LendIt are female smallholder farmers.
How it Works
CropChain is an integrated agricultural supply chain management platform that provides smallholder farmers with access to markets.
Farmers use the platform to advertise their products, while large off-takers or buyers of selected cereals use it to make purchases or enter long-term off-taker purchase contracts with AgroCenta.
AgroCenta leverages the platform to source cereals directly from smallholder farmers to supply to large off-takers who have contracts with the company.
This allows AgroCenta to earn margins between the price it pays farmers and the contractually agreed-upon price with off-takers.
LendIt is a platform that allows smallholder farmers to access financial services, such as mobile payments, microloans, crop insurance, and pensions, from partnering financial institutions.
AgroCenta provides credit scoring services to the partnering financial institutions on LendIt using proprietary data gathered through CropChain.
Access to a strong pool of creditworthy, low-risk farmers who have been pre-assessed by AgroCenta can potentially minimize loan default rates and improve operational efficiencies for financial institutions.
These institutions provide revenue to AgroCenta in the form of annual subscription fees and commission on interest in exchange for access to the platform and the initial credit assessment of farmers undertaken by AgroCenta.
The agricultural sector accounts for 20-40 percent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is projected to be a $1 trillion industry by 2030 but receives less than 3% of banking credit with more than 80% of the population depending on small-scale agriculture.
Velociti is accelerating the access to digital financial services for the underserved in the African agricultural ecosystem by using big data, machine learning, and AI to build alternative data for rural smallholder farmers to access financial services such as micro-lending, mobile payments, insurance & savings, and pensions.
Francis A. Obirikorang
Francis Obirikorang is the co-founder and chief executive officer of AgroCenta.
Francis is at the forefront of spearheading technology to create an Impact in the lives of over 5 million small-scale farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa by providing solutions that seek to remove bottlenecks from the value chain and create a win-win scenario for all active stakeholders.
He previously worked at TXT Ghana as a Business Analyst.
Francis Obirikorang attended Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Michael K. Ocansey is the co-founder and CTO of AgroCenta LLC.
Michaels is a software engineer at the core but has over the years been very involved with people at the grassroots who mostly know very little about technology
One of his key strengths is being highly technical but ensuring he understands all other aspects of any business he is involved in.
He previously worked at Swappaholics Holdings as a Co-Founder and CTO.
Additionally, in his previous work life, he assumed lead developer roles in companies spanning diverse industries and his biggest drive is to see more world-class solutions come out of the African continent.
Michael K. Ocansey attended Regent University College of Science and Technology.
Investors & Funding Rounds
Shell Foundation, FCDO, AV Ventures, Rabo Foundation
AgroCenta has raised US$790,000 in pre-Series A funding to scale its agri-tech ecosystem and secure crop purchases from smallholder farmers.
The startup, which was the winner of the Seedstars World competition back in 2018 and raised seed funding the same year, has now secured US$790,000 in pre-Series A investment from Shell Foundation, FCDO, AV Ventures, and Rabo Foundation.
AgroCenta will use the funding to further develop its smallholder farmer inclusion programs and procure crops at transparent and fair market prices to service offtake contracts.
Additionally, AV Ventures, ACDI/VOCA’s impact investing subsidiary, recently completed its investment in AgroCenta.
The funding made by AV Ventures is part of a US$790,000 pre-Series A investment round with other participating international institutions, including Shell Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, and Rabo Foundation, with support from AgroCenta’s strategic advisor, Qbera Capital.
With the newly secured funding, AgroCenta will widen the reach of its smallholder farmer financial inclusion programs and secure crop purchases, mainly from smallholder farmers, at fair and transparent market prices to service offtake contracts.
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