In a world driven by personal and professional success, the true measure of humanity’s beauty lies in our collective determination to create a better and more equitable world for all.
Good Nature Agro, a transformative force in Zambia’s agricultural landscape, embodies this spirit through their unwavering commitment to empowering small-scale farmers.
Founded by three visionary friends, the company specialises in moving small-scale farmers from poverty and into the middle class through the production of legume seeds and commodities. These include high-value legume seeds such as beans, cowpeas, soybeans, and groundnuts. Their mission embodies sustainable change by providing farmers with technical and financial assistance, and lucrative and reliable markets for all the crops they grow.
Sunday Silungwe, co-founder and Director of Communications at Good Nature Agro, grew up immersed in the world of agriculture. His own childhood experiences deeply influenced the company’s core mission. He is a development expert with a heart for rural agriculture.
Mr Silungwe recalls: One of the things that baffled me growing up was that a lot of food, seeds and crops that were being supplied across the country contributed to our national food security. However, the farmers who worked tirelessly to produce these crops were barely compensated enough to make do.”
Motivated to address these challenges facing small-scale farmers, Good Nature Agro embarked on their journey. In 2014, they began operations with 40 farmers in Mzapawi, a small village in what is now known as the Kasenengwa District of the Eastern Province.
We chose the village because the farmers there were passionate about agriculture but lacked updated extension and training, access to inputs and reliable markets. We realised we could make a difference in their lives by providing the training and support they needed,” explained Mr Silungwe.
Over the past nine years, Good Nature Agro has become a symbol of transformative agriculture, impacting over 30,000 farmers nationwide. The legume seed business’ success stems from its deep understanding of farmers’ challenges and its commitment to addressing them.
“To work with small-scale farmers, you have to respect the livelihood and understand their problems. Some of these include little to no access to finances, low standards for their produce, and lack of lucrative markets for produce,” explained Mr Silungwe.
Despite the company’s fervent journey, Good Nature Agro has faced many obstacles along the way. Mr Silungwe openly acknowledged one notable challenge: the ingrained attitude towards loan repayment among farmers.
He explained: “Most farmers are accustomed to receiving a lot of free support from the donor-funded NGOs and sometimes loans without paying them back. This in a lot of ways hinders our ability to assist more farmers.”
Financial constraints also posed a threat to the company’s long-term sustainability.
However, challenges often present opportunities for growth. Mr Silungwe sees them as such and shares how Good Nature Agro has navigated difficult times.
The company sought out partners whose goals aligned with theirs and had the capacity to contribute to their sustainable growth plans. This led to a fruitful and transformative collaboration with the global mining company Anglo American, through its Impact Finance Network.
A force for change
Anglo-American’s Impact Finance Network serves as a catalyst for small companies, propelling them towards unprecedented growth and success through impact investments. By identifying businesses with immense potential, the Impact Finance network (IFN) meticulously prepares them for investment, and connects them with the right investors, with the ultimate aim of closing investment transactions to support economic, societal or environmental development.
The Impact Finance Network’s support also includes providing targeted technical assistance like a business plan and financial model preparation, deal room structure review and pitch preparation or review, and introductions with investors.
In the case of Good Nature Agro, the support they have received through the Impact Finance Network has unleashed waves of progress that have propelled them to new heights. Mr Silungwe reflected on the program, stating: “It has allowed us to refine our strategies and deliver compelling pitches to funders.”
“The level of support we have received is beyond measure. We were provided with over 120 hours of targeted technical assistance, including a complete overhaul of our financial model, meeting the stringent conditions set by our prospective investors. This preparation has allowed us to successfully close our $8 Million Series B round. The round guarantees growth of impact, It also opens many more years of expansion of trade into the region.”
Thanks to the program’s comprehensive support, Good Nature Agro has already embarked on a promising trajectory that guarantees further growth for the agribusiness company.
“We already made a successful pitch to one funder through the Impact Finance Network, and we are excited for the growth that lies ahead. This also means more jobs for farmers and locals impacted through our operations,” Mr Silungwe added, with a glimmer of hope for the future.
By nurturing partnerships and facilitating connections between companies and investors, the Impact Finance Network has become a platform for unlocking the immense potential of impactful businesses. It is through this collaborative effort that a profound shift towards sustainable practices and economic empowerment is taking root, and Good Nature Agro’s transformative success trajectory stands as a testament to the boundless possibilities that arise with such an impact.
Unleashing transformative impact
Now continuing on its transformative journey following its participation in Anglo-American’s Impact Finance Network, Good Nature Agro has gained access to the resources and expertise necessary for their long-term sustainability. The company’s vision now extends beyond its immediate market, aiming to transform small-scale farmers into essential contributors to the entire agricultural value chain in Zambia.
With their ongoing commitment to empowering farmers, Good Nature Agro aims to reach over 35,000 farmers this year, bringing widespread prosperity to agricultural communities across the country.
In line with their vision, Mr Silungwe concluded: “We envision Zambian farmers tapping into the African export market through the crops they produce. We also hope to inspire more agribusiness companies to recognise the agricultural potential within local communities. I believe our farmers are more than capable of making Zambia Africa’s food basket.”