Wefarm, the farmer-to-farmer digital network for global small-scale agriculture, has announced that it has raised $13 million in a Series A funding round led by Silicon Valley-based venture capital company, True Ventures. Investing alongside True Ventures are AgFunder and June Fund, among others. The company received significant follow-on investment from LocalGlobe, ADV and Norrsken Foundation.
This Series A funding round follows on from the $1,6 million that Wefarm raised in a Seed round in 2016. The company did not disclose how the funding round is structured, i.e. if it involves any debt funding, equity swap funding or any other details related to the terms of the funding.
“If we can inspire 100 million farmers to work together on one platform, we can fundamentally shift global agriculture and trade in their favour, and this round of funding will take us even closer to bringing this vision for improved farm yields into fruition,” said Ewan. “It’s about harnessing AI to champion human intelligence. Our network of trust empowers farmers to find solutions to problems by knowledge sharing. In tandem, the marketplace will give them access to first-rate products that help to deliver better produce. The combination of the two has limitless potential to influence and fight the major agricultural crisis we face,” said Kenny Ewan, CEO and Founder of Wefarm.
Ecosystem for farmers
Founded in 2015, Wefarm has stated that it wants to create a global ecosystem for small-scale agriculture. With more than 1 billion people directly involved in small-scale farming, it is reported to be one of the biggest industries in the world.
According to the company, the financing will help it scale its network of 1,9 million farmers, and its newly created Marketplace, to connect farmers in Africa, even those without Internet access, to the information, products and services they need to be more successful.
Already, Wefarm reports that it has reached $1 million in total sales from the Wefarm Marketplace in just eight months since it launched it.
Challenges for African farmers
Disproportionally, Africa’s smallholder farmers are said to lose too much time and money due to fake or faulty agricultural products. Farm yields in many parts of Africa are also reported to be just one-fifth of farm yield in the United States or Europe. Poor-quality seeds and fertilisers also limit growth in plants and animals.
With some of these challenges in mind, there has been a rise of technology startups around Africa who are looking to use various technology solutions to help smaller African farmers to increase their yields and better manage their farms.
On this episode of The Tefo Mohapi Show, Bankole Oluwafemi talks about how innovation and startups have grown across Africa over the years including those offering agriculture technology solutions.
However, some analysts and professionals have argued that despite these technology solutions for farmers, technology won’t solve the food security problem in Africa.
However, Wefarm believes it can help change this in some way.
Marketplace for farmers
According to the company, its Wefarm Marketplace offering allows farmers to easily access quality products and services, such as seeds, fertilizers and a range of other non-agricultural items from trusted retailers and brands. Also, all the products, services and retailers on the platform have been recommended by Wefarm users and can even be purchased through SMS.
“We are enormously inspired by how Kenny and the Wefarm team have empowered the world’s farmers, and we see great potential for their future,” said Jon Callaghan, co-founder of True Ventures.
“The company is not only impact-driven, but the impressive growth of the Wefarm Marketplace demonstrates exciting commercial opportunities that will connect those farmers to more of what they need to the benefit of all, across the food supply chain. This is a big, global business.”