The ABC Funds invests USD1 million in high impact ag-tech Apollo Agriculture
The Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund) has invested USD1 million in Apollo Agriculture (Apollo), a Kenyan ag-tech which uses machine learning and automated operations technology to help small scale farmers access the resources they need to maximise their profitability.
Apollo provides an optimised bundle for farmers that includes financing, farming inputs, advice and insurance. Apollo’s vertically integrated digital approach leverages machine learning and satellite data to service customers throughout the entire lifecycle, from acquisition, to credit decisions, and finally, collecting repayments.
To begin the process, farmers apply for a loan through Apollo and receive a visit from one of Apollo’s field agents to verify data about their farm. Then, using an advanced machine learning model, Apollo undertakes a credit appraisal. Once the credit appraisal is approved, the farmer receives a voucher code to redeem at one of Apollo’s approved agro-dealers in Kenya. The farmer is provided with seeds and fertiliser, instead of cash, and pays back the loan via mobile payments after harvest. Apollo’s core product is a bundled maize product, but in the past few seasons, it has diversified and launched pilots with other crops, including potatoes, tomatoes and sorghum.
Apollo has grown rapidly, nearly tripling its customer base over the last year, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through insights from interviews with over 240 Apollo farmers, 71 per cent of farmers say their productivity has “very much increased” since working with Apollo.
The ABC Fund is providing a credit facility of USD1 million to Apollo. Apollo will use the proceeds to continue scaling its high impact ag-tech solution to reach more smallholder farmers who are unable to access microfinance and commercial bank lending. The investment will have a positive impact to improve food security and reduce food shortages in rural Kenya.
The ABC Fund is a blended-finance impact fund which provides catalytic financing to underserved yet profitable segments of agribusiness value chains in developing countries. Prior to the investment in Apollo, the ABC Fund has provided a total of USD12 million in funding to three farmers co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, six small-and medium agri-businesses in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, and two financial institutions operating in Ecuador, Kenya and Uganda which on-lend to smallholder farmers.
Emanuele Santi, Fund Manager for the ABC Fund at Bamboo Capital Partners, says: “Apollo is an excellent example of a technology-driven business which is making a real difference to improve the lives of marginalised farming communities in Kenya. Apollo’s innovative solution to help smallholder farmers maximise 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.”
Eli Pollak, CEO at Apollo Agriculture, says: “We are thrilled to partner with the ABC Fund. 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.”