Pale Blue Dot backs Amini, an African climate tech startup solving environmental data scarcity


Amini team
Image Credits: Amini

Amini, a Nairobi-based climate tech startup focused on solving Africa’s environmental data gap through artificial intelligence and satellite technology, has raised $2 million in a pre-seed funding round.

Pale Blue Dot, the European climate-focused venture capital firm that announced a $100 million fund last week, led the oversubscribed round. At the same time, Superorganism, RaliCap, W3i, Emurgo Kepple Ventures and a network of angel investors participated.

Kate Kallot, the founder and CEO of Amini, has worked for several years in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and deep tech roles for companies such as Arm, Intel and Nvidia. Kallot, in an interview with TechCrunch, explained how a work presentation on the intersection of natural capital and emerging technologies made her become fascinated by how she could use her experiences in AI and ML, including her work around social impact with the United AI Alliance, to provide a solution to the continent’s lack of data infrastructure, especially around environmental data.

“The lack of data infrastructure for Africa, from the inability to collect data to analyzing it and its impact, is a deeper problem than most realize,” the CEO said on a call. “If you look at climate or environmental data in Africa today, it’s either nonexistent or difficult to access. And with climate change projected to hit Africa the most, there’s a lack of data for farmers, for instance, to understand what’s happening.”

Often lauded as the last frontier market, Africa is home to 65% of the world’s uncultivated fertile land and 30% of its mineral resources, but only accounts for 3% of global GDP. In addition, frequent food and water scarcity still plague the continent despite having such enormous resources. One reason for this is the lack of reliable and trustworthy data, which has held back Africa’s development for decades by hampering business decisions and capital allocation, as well as making it difficult to measure the impact of climate change. There are other instances of nothingness in accessing weather or geospatial data on the continent.

Enter Amini. The six-month-old startup said it has developed a data aggregation platform that pulls in different sources of data (from satellites and other existing data sources like weather data, sensors and proprietary customer data) down to a square meter, then unifies and processes this data before providing them via APIs local and international companies that need them.

Today, on a granular level, Amini can provide farmers with data from the cycle between crop planting and harvesting to the amount of water and fertilizer used. On a higher level, the platform can help organizations understand the impact of natural disasters, flooding and drought across the entire continent “in a few seconds,” according to Kallot, who also said the platform could pull from almost 20 years of historical data and current data produced every two weeks.

Kate Kallot (Amini founder and CEO). Image Credits: Amini

Amini’s current customers, primarily corporations and multinationals, are in the agricultural insurance sector and supply chain monitoring, specifically at the “last mile,” or the initial stages of the global supply chain. Kallot couldn’t disclose the names of Amini’s clients, while adding that the less-than-a-year-old climate tech startup is in discussions to sign up “some of the biggest food and beverage companies and one of the largest insurance companies globally.”

Addressing the lack of environmental data for organizations in these industries effects a necessary change. Take, for instance, global food and beverage companies with franchises in Africa, such as Nestlé or Starbucks. There’s mounting pressure from international regulators such as the SEC Climate Disclosure rules and European Green Deal mandating that these companies understand their carbon emissions and environmental impact and how their operations and supply chain processes affect local farming practices in various regions, including Africa.

Platforms like Amini bring much-needed data transparency for these global organizations with vested interests in Africa, and helps them tackle supply chain issues at the last mile and provide agricultural insurance to farmers. “The beauty of the platform is that it’s easily scalable because once you collect agricultural data for insurance, for example, that same data, 80 to 90%, can be sold into food and beverage companies who have supply chains in Africa or can be sold to governments who are trying to understand the impact of agriculture on their country.”

Amini’s business is such that it engages in a long sales cycle. International clients get access to the platform’s API after paying a flat license fee “in the multi-millions” for two years. Local clients have tiered introductory pricing on a case-by-case basis, allowing them to access what they need and grow over time.

Gro Intelligence, a Kenyan-founded but New York-based AI-powered insights company that provides decision-making tools and analytics to the food, agriculture and climate economies and their participants, is the name that comes up the most when industry observers try to make sense of Amini’s business, according to Kallot. However, the chief executive says there are noticeable differences: Amini collects and generates the data that the likes of Gro aggregate and use to illuminate the inter-relationships between food, climate, trade, agriculture and macroeconomic conditions.

Kallot says Amini, which recently became the first African company accepted into the Seraphim Space Accelerator program (scouts from the top 2% of global early-stage space companies), has direct competition with geospatial companies such as Planet Labs that have deployed a constellation of satellites that collects data around the globe and provide access for $15 per square kilometer. According to Kallot, using such technology is quite expensive for organizations in Africa or looking into the continent, and Amini proffers an alternative.

African climate startups set to gain ground as VC funding shifts their way

This piece highlights that venture capital activity around climate tech has been heating up in Africa since last year despite the global VC funding cooldown. Last year, the continent’s climate tech startups secured over $860 million in equity funding. Firms such as Novastar Ventures, Catalyst Fund and Equator are raising or have raised climate-tech funds for pre-seed to Series A startups.

Commenting on why her firm, which typically writes checks to European climate tech startups, invested in Amini, an African startup, Heidi Lindvall, general partner at Pale Blue Dot, said: “The scarcity of high-quality environmental data in Africa is a concern as it prevents others from building important climate solutions such as improving farmer insurance, monitoring climate risk or supply chains. When meeting the team behind Amini, we were blown away by their ambition and expertise and we believe they are best positioned to fill the environmental data gap of Africa.”

Before launching Amini, Kallot was a co-founder and chief impact officer at African web3/crypto startup Mara. Mwenda Mugendi, Muthoni Karubiu and Eshani Kaushal, all part of Amini’s executive team, bring a wealth of experience in machine learning, data science, geospatial analysis and fintech, working for multinationals including Microsoft, NASA and MTN.

Equator secures $40M in commitments for fund targeting climate tech startups in Africa

More TechCrunch

Consolidation is here in cybersecurity, as bigger players in the space pick up startups that will help them grapple with the ever-expanding attack surface for enterprises as they move more…

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up its machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

21 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’