Acumen Fund Invests in Virtual City to Automate Agricultural Supply Chains in East Africa and….
Friday, June 8, 2012
Nairobi, Kenya, June 5, 2012 – Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty across Africa and in South Asia, today announced a $1.5 million convertible debt investment in Virtual City, a mobile technology services provider based in Nairobi.
Virtual City is the maker of Agrimanagr, an affordable mobile data management service marketed to agricultural cooperatives and processors that tracks agricultural output from farmer to processor, coordinates mobile payment to farmers, and facilitates extension services such as veterinary visits and agricultural input management. This investment will support the redevelopment of this product to make it more affordable for smaller agricultural processors and available via low-cost smart phones.
“This redesign represents a game-changing innovation that will connect farmers to markets, allowing them to increase their income, build records of farm production and payment and receive the appropriate reward for increased attributed yields,” said Maurice Nduranu, East Africa Portfolio Manager, Acumen Fund. “This investment represents another way in which we’re expanding our investment experience across the agricultural sector to learn about what is needed to professionalize small holder farming.”
Smallholder farmers, typically widely dispersed and isolated because of poor transport infrastructure, face challenges in accessing markets, organizing into cooperatives, and bypassing local or farm-gate brokers. By participating in the networks of agricultural processors and aggregators, smallholder farmers typically increase their earnings by 40-100% through improved access to credit, guaranteed markets, better information as well as other services.