Kenyan Ag-tech startup, Apollo Agriculture, raises US$1mn debt funding

 Agri-tech startup Apollo Agriculture, which uses machine learning and automated operations technology to help small-scale farmers access the resources they need to maximize their profitability, has raised US$1 million in debt funding from the Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund).

Based in Nairobi, Apollo Agriculture is a commercial farming platform for small-scale farmers that uses machine learning and automated operations technology to help them access things like financing, insurance, farming products, and optimized advice. 

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The startup, which raised a US$6 million Series A funding round in May of 2020 led by Anthemis Exponential Ventures, with participation from Leaps by Bayer, Flourish Ventures, Sage Hill Capital, To Ventures Food, Accion Venture Lab, and Newid Capital, among others, currently serves about 60,000 farmers, having grown its customer base by three times in the last two years and has now added more capital via a US$1 million credit facility from the ABC Fund, a blended-finance impact fund which provides catalytic financing to underserved yet profitable segments of agribusiness value chains in developing countries. 

Apollo will use the cash to continue scaling its solution to reach more smallholder farmers who are unable to access microfinance and commercial bank lending, said Eli Pollak, Apollo Agriculture Chief Executive Officer.

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“This funding will support our strong continued growth, enabling us to help more small-scale farmers access high-quality farming inputs, advice, and insurance on credit, significantly increasing their yields and income. Apollo’s automated, tech-driven approach is designed to help millions of farmers make the transition from subsistence to commercial farmer sustainably. We are excited to have ABC Fund as a strong partner as we continue to scale,” he said.

Emanuele Santi, fund manager for the ABC Fund at Bamboo Capital Partners, said Apollo was an excellent example of a technology-driven business that is making a real difference to improve the lives of marginalized farming communities in Kenya. 

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“Apollo’s innovative solution to help smallholder farmers maximize profitability is proven, and moreover, it is directly improving food security and reducing shortages in the region. We are delighted that the ABC Fund now has the opportunity to play a crucial role in scaling Apollo to enable it to reach even more smallholder farmers and continue delivering a positive impact on the ground,” he said. 

In September 2020, Endeavor catalyst, an innovative co-investment vehicle accepted the founders of Kenya’s Apollo Agriculture and Nigeria’s 54gene into its global network of entrepreneurs.

The Endeavor initiative works to catalyse long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs worldwide.

Apollo Agriculture delivers bundled seed, fertilizer, insurance, advice, and access to market to smallholder farmers across Kenya through a digital, vertically integrated, and cost-effective approach.

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