Silicon Valley VC Firm Leads $13M Funding In African Smallholder Farmer Network

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
smallholder farmer
WeFarm expects to use a $13 million Series-A investment to connect more African farmers to its online smallholder farmer network. Image supplied by WeFarm

WeFarm, a peer-to-peer farmer network for smallholder farmers, has raised a $13 million Series-A round of funding led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm True Ventures.

Africa’s most dominant economic sector, agriculture accounts for 15 percent of the continent’s GDP — more than $100 billion annually, according to McKinsey. An estimated 70 percent of Africans depend directly on agriculture for their livelihood, FT reports.

Smallholder farms that are not controlled by large agribusinesses.

Founded by Kenny Ewan in 2015, WeFarm is based in the U.K. with an office in Kenya where it is hiring staff to scale its operations in East Africa. 

WeFarm has raised a total of $20.9 million since it was established in 2015, according to Crunchbase.

San Francisco-based True Ventures is an early-stage tech startup-focused VC firm founded by John Burke, Jon Callaghan, Phil Black, Toni Schneider and Tony Conrad in 2005. It led an earlier $5 million seed round in March 2018 for WeFarm.

WeFarm uses its tech-enabled platform to address yield gaps, vetting suppliers of quality products such as seeds and fertilizers while providing a sounding board where farmers can interact and ask their peers for advice.  

WeFarm expects to use the $13 million investment to connect more smallholder farmers in Africa to its artificial intelligence-enabled marketplace and networking site, Techcrunch reports.

Largest smallholder farmer network

WeFarm claims to be the world’s largest farmer-to-farmer digital network, with 1.9 million farmers using the platform to access information and products such as seeds and fertilizers, according to a press statement sent to Moguldom.

Farm yields in many parts of Africa are one-fifth of farm yields in the U.S. or Europe. 

A major problem for smallholder farmers, especially in Africa, is lower farm yields due to faulty or poor-quality agricultural products that waste time and money. 

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AgFunder, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on agritech startups, and Berlin-based global tech investor June Fund joined WeFarm’s Series-A funding round as new investors.

Existing investors LocalGlobe and ADV, both London-based investment firms that back digital tech companies, and Norrsken Foundation, a Stockholm-based co-working space and incubator, also participated in the investment.