Nigerian agritech ThriveAgric partners with Heifer to boost financial inclusion for local farmers

By bne IntelliNews October 10, 2023

ThriveAgric, a Nigerian agritech start-up that helps farmers access market and financial services with a focus on ensuring food security, has joined forces with Heifer International to introduce the AYuTe project (Agriculture, Youth, and Technology).

Set up in 2017, ThriveAgric works with 500,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, many of whom are unbanked. It currently has 450 Nigerian warehouses and raised $56m in funding in 2022. The target is to have 1.5mn farmers in Nigeria alone in 2024.

The AYuTe initiative, meanwhile, aims to empower 125,000 smallholder farmers by providing them with financial services, as part of ThriveAgric's push to create a strong network of successful farmers across Africa.

In the next year, ThriveAgric and its technical partners will help small-scale farmers in eight northern Nigerian states open bank accounts. These states are Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Bauchi. This effort follows ThriveAgric's victory in the 2022 Agriculture, Youth, and Technology (AYuTe) Africa Challenge, led by Heifer International.

The AYuTe project seeks to address financial exclusion in rural Nigeria, with a focus on gender sensitivity. It ensures that at least 40% of beneficiaries, including smallholder farmers, Point of Sale (POS) operators, and project employees, are women.

This effort also aims to achieve two important goals: increasing financial inclusion for smallholder farmers and creating jobs for young people. ThriveAgric intends to hire more than 200 young individuals and distribute 1,000 POS devices to selected Nigerian youths, ultimately boosting family incomes and economic stability.

In September, ThriveAgric entered Uganda and is targeting more new countries as it seeks to expand its small-farm client base. The Ugandan pilot is “showing a lot of promise,” ThriveAgric CEO Uka Eje tells The Africa Report. The company is also planning to enter Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Zambia in the first quarter of 2024.

International expansion decisions, Eje told the Paris-based publication, are strongly influenced by the availability of agricultural input distributors and major corporate off-takers in Nigeria such as Unilever, which facilitated ThriveAgric’s entry into Kenya. “If a brand is present in Nigeria, it helps expansion to new countries,” he said.

The agritech is now seeking to raise $30m in equity to support its expansion. Eje told The African Report that the fundraising is “making very good headway”, and he aims to close the round at the end of the year, or in the first quarter of 2024.

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