Internet-based food-market platform Twiga Foods has received Sh1 billion to scale up its fresh produce buying for direct sales to select formal markets.
The funding was jointly raised by World Bank’s private investment arm International Finance Corporation (IFC), private equity firm TLcom and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP). It will be spent on creating a formal farmer-market linkage.
The investment was co-led by IFC and TLcom — a pan-African venture capital firm — with participation from previous investors Wamda Capital, DOB Equity, 1776 and Adolph H.Lundin. As part of the deal, Wale Ayeni, who leads IFCs’ venture capital activities in Africa, and Maurizio Caio, managing partner at TLcom will join the board.
Twiga Foods chief executive Grant Brooke welcomed the injection, saying the firm will increase footprint across Kenya helping farmers earn more while ensuring lower retail prices for city and town-based fresh produce buyers.
The Twiga Foods platform uses mobile phone technology to match supply and demand where buyers (agro-processors, institutions and retail chains) of specific fruits and vegetables are linked to farmers thereby creating a steady and efficient supply chain.
“The system is a win for both sides – farmers have guaranteed access to a fairly priced, transparent, mobile marketplace while vendors can consistently source high-quality produce, which is conveniently delivered for free to their doorstep by Twiga,” he said.
TLcom founder Maurizio Caio said Twiga had proved that use of smart technologies and innovative business models could improve large and inefficient agricultural supply chain in Kenya, adding that the new capital and business building support would play a pivotal role in improving farmer lives as well as making agribusiness viable.
“IFC’s investment in Twiga supports a disruptive start-up that is helping create a more transparent, efficient supply chain, which connects farmers directly to markets, helping them earn more,” said Nikunj Jinsi, IFC global head of Venture Capital.
Twiga that was launched in 2014 works with 13,000 farmers and 6,000 vendors who deal in tomatoes, cabbage, mango, potatoes and onions.
It also owns a packing house with cold storage.