Ghanaian agtech Farmerline has secured $1.5 million equity funding from Dutch impact investor Oikocredit in its second close of the pre-Series A round. The new funding brings the total amount raised in the round to $14.4 million, including $6.4 debt funding.
The funding comes at a time when Farmerline, which has operations across Ghana, is setting up shop in Ivory Coast as it continues its expansion across West Africa.
Founded in 2013 by Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai, Farmerline works through agro-dealers, who are usually the first point of knowledge for farmers, in ensuring access to high-quality supplies, including fertilizer and seeds.
The partner retailers use the startup’s Mergdata, a proprietary AI technology platform for supply chain intelligence, to digitize the farmers they serve, and to generate the data required to predict the demand of farm supplies and prevent stock-outs. It also uses that data to determine the amount of business expansion credit to give to agro-dealers.
“With the support of Oikocredit alongside our first-round funders, our distribution, logistics and financing services will continue not only in Ghana but also in Ivory Coast where we’ve recently begun the process of expanding our team,” said Attah in a statement.
In a past interview, Attah told TechCrunch that Farmerline is expanding its physical infrastructure like warehouses and distribution networks to make it a marketplace that allows the faster movement of supplies to and from rural areas. The logistics network also supports farmers to quickly access markets for better incomes and to reduce post-harvest losses and waste.
Farmerline said it is planning on strengthening its supply chain for agribusinesses to reduce the cost of farming and increase yield for farmers on the continent through the deployment of AI technology and local infrastructure.
“As fertiliser prices more than quadruple and the conflict in Ukraine compounds global food security challenges, this investment is crucial,” it said.
Farmerline claimed to have so far financed around $18 million worth of inputs and crops through franchise shop alliances with agribusinesses and input dealers.
The startup targets to reach 300,000 farmers in 2022, a nearly 400% increase in growth compared to last year, when it doubled its direct-reach to 79,000 farmers, up from 36,000 in 2020 and 8,000 in 2019.
Oikocredit’s equity officer, Mila Georgieva, said, “The harmful impact of rocketing fertiliser costs on smallholder farmers in Africa is clear. With our investment in Farmerline, we are supporting those most affected by the price volatility. Our investments in the agriculture sector are at the core of Oikocredit’s work as a social impact investor, and we have already identified synergies with other portfolio companies. We are thrilled to support Farmerline Group and smallholder communities across Ghana and Ivory Coast.”
Farmerline’s other equity investors include Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF), FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank and Greater Impact Foundation.