Kenyan mobile and agri-tech startup, FarmDrive has raised an undisclosed amount of funds from Safaricom Spark Venture Fund to scale operations.
Launched in 2014 by two Computer Science graduates from The University of Nairobi, FarmDrive connects small-scale farmers to financial services.
It does this through an alternative credit-scoring model it developed. It is based on mobile phones and machine learning algorithms, and allows farmers to access financing via their phones.
The mobile phone app, together with SMS, allows farmers to track their revenues and expenses, and apply for loans. The data is then fed into a credit-scoring algorithm, alongside key satellite, agronomic, economic data, to help improve yields.
“In an era when market uncertainty is creating new challenges for the agricultural sector, mobile-based technology solutions like FarmDrive can empower farmers with the critical access to finance and to help expand their access to other essential services,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.
FarmDrive also develops decision-making tools that financial institutions can use to create products that fit the economic and agronomic needs of smallholder farmers.
The startup will use the funds to support the next phase of its growth by building its credit scoring model and enhancing its human resource base in research, analysis and insight generation.
“We are excited about this investment because it enables us to scale this innovation, score more farmers, unlock more capital, and grow the agricultural loan portfolios of our financial institution partners. This is all good for the inclusive development of our country,” said Ms Rita Kimani, co-founder of FarmDrive.
FarmDrive is the fifth investment by the US$1 million Safaricom Spark Venture Fund since its launch in 2015. Other startups that have secured funds from the Fund includes Eneza Education, mSurvey, and Sendy.