Saaricom’s Spark Venture Fund has invested in the largest agricultural inputs supply chain platform in Kenya, iProcure.
iProcure links farmers and farmer cooperatives to manufacturers of agricultural inputs. Through accrued efficiencies, it also offers farmers discounts between 10 per cent and 20 per cent every time they purchase farming products.
“At iProcure we are all about optimizing rural supply chains. We build both the supply chain technology in addition to ‘on-the-ground’ infrastructure to ensure small holder farming communities get the inputs they require on terms that are convenient and affordable,” said Nicole Galletta, Chief Operations Officer, iProcure.
Farmers access the platform through a dial prompt on their mobile phones and then they select the input they would like to buy. They then receive a voucher which allows them to claim the inputs from an iProcure farm depot or collection point, currently across Counties in Central and the Rift Valley.
iProcure seeks to increase agricultural output in Kenya, which has remained comparatively low to other countries due to challenges including access to and use of quality inputs.
Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom said the Spark Fund was started with the aim of supporting emerging startups that use technology to transform lives adding, “ iProcure will be instrumental in harnessing the power of technology to improve Kenya’s agri-business processes.”
Started in 2014, the Spark Fund is a $1 million venture that sought to make late-seed to early-growth stage investments in start-ups using mobile technology as an enabler.
It has invested in six start-ups from the over 600 applications it received. iProcure is the sixth and final Spark Fund Investee.
Other beneficiaries of the fund are: Sendy, a marketplace for businesses and individuals to connect with drivers to make deliveries simple and transparent; mSurvey, a mobile-first research platform that leverages SMS and mobile messaging technology to simplify access to credible, on-demand data; mobile-based learning platform that targets students and adults in Kenya and other countries, Eneza.
Lynk which connects customers with professionals and artisans from fields such as tailoring, carpentry, house helps, waiters and chefs; and FarmDrive which has developed an alternative credit-scoring model based on mobile phones and machine learning, enabling many farmers to have formal access to loans and financing are the rest.