Carl Jensen, Co-founder, and CEO of Zambian agritech startup, Good Nature Agro, explains that the investment capital will enable the startup to further its goals of assisting small-scale farmers by upscaling their current business model.
The agritech startup secured $2.1-million in a Series A equity funding round from Goodwell Investments and existing seed investors Global Partnerships and FINCA Ventures.
Founded in 2014, by Carl Jensen, Sunday Silungwe, and Kellan Hays, the agritech startup is a social enterprise that assists small-scale farmers to generate income
“We believe that every farm – regardless of size – deserves a partner who sees enough value in their capacity and their dreams to engage with them as individuals and families. Our focus on personalised advice and service delivery to farmers even as we scale is the key to our social impact and our momentum. Sunday, Kellan, and I are incredibly proud of what the GNA team has accomplished since 2014, but the best is yet to come. With this investment, we are entering a new phase of rapid growth driven by global value chains and superior service to our suppliers and customers.”
The funding will be used to accelerate the startup’s focus on building up essential value-add processing infrastructure in both central and eastern Zambia.
In addition, the startup is aiming to use the funding to grow its full-farm extension services for smallholders and connect participating farmers to large-scale agribusinesses and food processors. The funding will also be used to further its seed breeding program.
Melissa Tickle, Investment Associate of FINCA Ventures explains that the agritech startup is providing an innovative service that is directly benefiting the local community.
“Good Nature Agro is creating a new model for seeds sales in the African market by cultivating new product demand and disrupting the predominant system of agricultural activities, which are modelled on the maize value chain. Further, the GNA team has proven they can triple farmer incomes in 24-months, bringing their growers into the middle class and helping them to achieve their financial goals through providing predictable and well-documented cash flows.”
The agritech startup is a legume seed company that works to empower small-scale farmers. In Zambia, the dominant farming methods focus on maize and cotton, which in many cases have not yielded the desired result and left small-scale farmers without a lucrative source of income. In addition, the production of cotton and maize can have negative impacts on the health of the land and the soil.
As a social enterprise, its main focus is to empower small-scale farmers by providing a platform through which they can sell their fresh produce. According to the agritech startup, its participating farmers earn three to four times more than when farming maize.
“Legumes are valuable to farmers long-term because they increase soil fertility by replacing nitrogen used by other crops, and they are resilient against climate changes,” explains the agritech startup.
In a statement on their social media page, Good Nature Agro provides insight into their business model.
“We use an economically viable model to drive change in three perpetually problematic areas: agricultural extension, access to markets, and long-term land health. Farmers are provided with high-quality seeds on loan, and work with our Private Extension Agents (PEAs) throughout the season to maximize production and quality.”
Using an innovative sales and production model titled, Source, Good Nature Agro aims to support 15 000 small-scale farmers with its service, customised input packages, financial planning, guaranteed offtake contracts, and more.
Mercy Zulu, Investment Associate of Goodwell Investments explains that GNA is making a positive social impact in Zambia.
“Agriculture in Zambia and Southern Africa, much like the rest of the continent, has an enormous social and economic footprint. However, the region’s full agricultural potential remains largely untapped due to supply chain challenges and low processing capacity. Through its business model and exceptional team, Good Nature Agro is addressing many of these issues by providing access to credit, inputs, critical technical services, and market linkages in a way that benefits smallholder farmers and promotes sector growth. This makes the company a good fit for uMunthu’s inclusive agribusiness strategy. We are excited that our investment will support the next phase of the company’s growth, and we look forward to working with the team on this journey.”
The Source model enables Good Nature Agro to create agreements with food processing companies and large-scale agribusinesses which require legume crop-based goods based on specified processing of said produce.
The contracted farmers a part of GNA are then provided high-quality seeds created by GNA to grow legume produce. These seeds are provided on a loan basis to small-scale farmers.
“This linked contracting approach enables GNA to introduce larger groups of smallholder farmers to formal seed varieties which deliver better yields, more desirable characteristics, and higher prices,” explains GNA.