Africa’s ag fintech space received the least venture capital funding of any global region in 2021, with North America and India leading the world with respective totals of $650 million and $411 million.
But the continent has shown a consistent increase in investment over the past few years, pointing to its growing importance of its ag fintech sector, according to a recent report from consultancy Graze.
Agrifintech investment in Africa reached barely $1 million in 2019. This shot up to $10 million in 2020 and $75 million in 2021, the report states. The annual number of agrifintech deals also grew to 16 in 2021, up from three in 2019 and 2020.
Generally, investors have remained apprehensive about agriculture as it is seen as a high-risk sector, Graze founder Niall Haughey tells AFN.
He believes Africa’s recent upsurge in deals could be instrumental in putting agrifintech on investor’s radars, especially in countries where startups don’t have an investor community to pitch to.
“It’s really positive that there’s been a lot more deal numbers, regardless of the dollars invested. I think that’s really good because it basically gets more investors looking at the sector,” he says.
“Hopefully with some of the larger fundraising rounds, you’ll start to see the emergence of an agrifintech category that people specifically go after. One of [Graze’s] many objectives of putting that term ‘agrifintech’ out there is that investors do look at it differently and can see the fintech element. That would be specifically relevant to areas like like Africa, where fintech is already so popular [with investors] but agritech isn’t.”
Of the $75 million raised by African ag fintech ventures in 2021, the lion’s share went to Twiga Food‘s $50 million Series C round, followed by SunCulture‘s $14 million Series A.
Other report highlights:
- Agrifintech investment globally claimed around 1% of the $600 billion total worldwide VC investment in 2021.
- Overall, online farmer and agribusiness marketplaces dominated the global agrifintech stakes, closing 64 deals. This was followed by startups offering farmer finance data products, which landed almost half as many deals.
- 2021 saw 93 deals compared to 39 deals the previous year.
- Early stage (seed and pre-seed) deals dominated.
- India led in terms of agrifintech deal numbers, recording 28 transactions in 2021.
- Africa’s 16 deals equaled those in Europe. For a market of its size and wealth with a well-developed agricultural industry, Europe has been underperforming when it comes to agrifintech investments, according to Graze. Compared to North America, which saw $650 million invested in 2021, Europe raised $124 million.
“It’s such a big market and because that investment is so low, it really needs to be pulled apart just to analyze what is going on there. I think it just doesn’t seem to be interesting to entrepreneurs,” Haughey says.