Acumen and the Lundin Foundation today announced a $1.5 million aggregate equity and debt investment in Esoko Networks Limited (“Esoko”), a Ghanaian-built technology platform that connects African farmers to markets via mobile phones.
The platform allows various stakeholders, from agri-business, NGOs, development finance institutions, governments and mobile network operators to profile and provide specific content as well as survey farmers to better understand their needs. The product enables farmers to receive market prices, offers, climate adaptation advice and agronomic tips that are expected to lead to improvements in yield and increased incomes. It enables businesses to profile farmers, track field activities and transactions, and market their products and services.
“Promoting commercial linkages and introducing market transparency will transform African agriculture” says Mark Davies, CEO of Esoko, “We’re at the forefront of using technology to facilitate this great transformation in human wealth and productivity.”
This investment is intended to support the company’s expansion into East Africa as well as software and services development.
Godfrey Mwindaare, West Africa Director at Acumen, adds, “There are a tremendous amount of resources already focused on small-holder farmers. We see in Esoko the potential to empower and transform the lives of rural farmers by providing one point of access to critical information and services, thereby closing the information asymmetry gap between commercial, well-endowed farmers and the rural, one-acre farmer.”
Anna Samaké, Portfolio Manager for West and Central Africa for the Lundin Foundation, commented, “One of the Lundin Foundation’s primary objectives in West Africa is to build and support the agri-business sector with an ecosystem of services that will allow sustainable and profitable SMEs to emerge and grow. Many of those services will be available through the Esoko platform.”
“We are thrilled and honored to partner with Acumen and the Lundin Foundation to bring our mobile platform to organizations and farmers across Africa,” said Davies.
Acumen has invested over $24 million in agricultural enterprises and has a deep knowledge of small-holder farmers’ needs and behaviors. Acumen has invested nearly $8 million across West Africa since 2011, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor. Acumen’s investments in the region include businesses providing agri-services and market access for small-holder rice farmers, anti-drug counterfeiting, and mobile banking.