Wefarm Marketplace hits $1 million in sales in its first eight months
LONDON, United Kingdom, November 6, 2019- Wefarm the digital network for global small-scale agriculture, today announced it has raised $13 million in a Series A financing round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm True Ventures (TrueVentures.com).
This financing round will help Wefarm further scale its network of 1.9 million farmers, and its newly created Marketplace, to connect farmers in Africa, even those without internet access, to the information, products and services they need to be more successful. Investing alongside True Ventures are AgFunder and June Fund, among others. The company received significant follow-on investment from LocalGlobe, ADV and Norrsken Foundation.
Founded in 2015, Wefarm is on a mission to create a global eco-system for small-scale agriculture. With more than 1 billion people directly involved in small-scale farming, it is the biggest industry in the world. Wefarm is building the network of trust for those farmers.
Wefarm Marketplace allows farmers to easily access quality products and services, such as seeds, fertilizers and a range of other non-agricultural items from trusted retailers and brands. In line with Wefarm’s bottom-up model, all products, services and retailers on the platform have been recommended by Wefarm users and can even be purchased through SMS.
Disproportionally, smallholder farmers lose too much time and money due to fake or faulty agricultural products. Farm yields in many parts of Africa are just one-fifth of farm yield in the United States or Europe. Poor-quality seeds and fertilisers also limit growth in plants and animals. Given that smallholder farmers grow roughly 70 percent of the world’s food, Wefarm intends to use its technology to help close this yield gap.
The company’s funding announcement coincides with another notable growth milestone of reaching $1 million in total sales from the Wefarm Marketplace in just eight months since launch; that’s faster growth than both Amazon and eBay in their early stages.
With Marketplace sales growing at more than 40 percent month on month, the business is on a rapid growth trajectory. Over the next 12 months it aims to diversify into supporting farmers with both financing and delivery, as well as enabling them to trade the commodities and crops they grow, with the goal of becoming a key part of the global supply chain on behalf of the farmer.
Wefarm CEO and Founder Kenny Ewan believes the platform’s Marketplace will grow into an expansive ecosystem for smallholder farmers.
“If we can inspire 100 million farmers to work together on one platform, we can fundamentally shift global agriculture and trade in their favour, and this round of funding will take us even closer to bringing this vision for improved farm yields into fruition,” said Ewan. “It’s about harnessing AI to champion human intelligence. Our network of trust empowers farmers to find solutions to problems by knowledge sharing. In tandem, the marketplace will give them access to first-rate products that help to deliver better produce. The combination of the two has limitless potential to influence and fight the major agricultural crisis we face.”
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“We are enormously inspired by how Kenny and the Wefarm team have empowered the world’s farmers, and we see great potential for their future,” said Jon Callaghan, co-founder of True Ventures. “The company is not only impact-driven, but the impressive growth of the Wefarm Marketplace demonstrates exciting commercial opportunities that will connect those farmers to more of what they need to the benefit of all, across the food supply chain. This is a big, global business.”
Wake Up Call On Africans In The Blockchain Space
Blockchain(Image credit: Datafloq)
What is the long term plan for Africa & African businesses as far as the future of Blockchain/ Fintech businesses are concerned? Are we again thinking ‘what is in for me’ just as it has often been the case when African countries try to outsmart each other on economic agreements, instead of going on the table as a block with a common agenda? Some of us think we have to get our acts right this time with a long playbook to protect home grown startups with some deliberate plans.
Why should it all be about competition rather than collaboration and looking at each step from the perspective of how it will turn things around for the continent this time around? The influx of Chinese (blockchain) businesses being greeted with the kind of effusive praise-singing that could make a canary bird blush is indeed funny and absurd since we’ve conveniently forgotten that we can’t eat our eggs and have it.
The examples of Houbi, Binance, OkEX and all other Chinese based exchanges reveal that not one single African plays any C-Level roles including CFO, COO, Head of Product or even any key insider role for that matter. Instead we see them exploiting Africans, throwing a few dollars at them and giving them saccharine titles like Director of Innovation, Labs, Hubs, Ambassador etc., and using them to gather intels on how to optimize their businesses. When it’s all said and done, these companies leave the continent with nothing but capital flight.
Contrast this scenario with what’s obtainable in companies/startups like Coinpesa, BitFXT, Kudi Exchange, Kurepay, KuBitX and many others who have Africans as core key officers. Whether they recognize it or not, their success is for the continent as a whole and can help trigger a wave of advancements cutting through several spheres from business Incubation to financing and many more. It’s no different from the ascent of Silicon Valley, The Shark Tanks, and Dragon Den.
Let any African successful blockchain project with millions try the Chinese market, if you will not be forced to rather join an existing business in partnership or be whisked away with watertight rules; all to ensure they protect their business environment. So why do we gleefully allow ourselves to be used and dumped by destroying smart entrepreneurs who are doing everything on their own by fronting everyday for Chinese brands with the same services. when we could be advancing the interests of our people?
Homegrown companies like BitFXT, Kudi Exchange, Kurepay, KuBitX, etc. providing one smart solution or the other are being discouraged by industry players and stakeholders in the African market who have chosen to push the Chinese agenda rather than back theirs.
Africa needs blockchain more than any other continent. The joke is on us if we cannot devise a deliberate plan to force these so called big brands into partnering with local brands in each market they seek to enter rather than allowing them roam free and making it impossible for homegrown brands to stay competitive. Failure to regulate these foreign companies will leave us at the losing end because of limited funding problems prevalent in the local market.
We all need to pause and ask ourselves the tough questions and identify our WHY in 3,5,10 years time when this has become a major economic shift. The narrative needs to change with smart thinking on how we can reposition the continent by helping those (Africans) who have invested all their resources into making the market ready to scale with the right synergies local or foreign which can push our continent and help accelerate economic growth.
Yes there is poverty & scarcity which has pushed many into survival mode and its attendant self-sabotaging actions without any consideration of the long term effects. But if Africa is to achieve its destined greatness and earn a sit at the table in global economic affairs, we cannot continue to live with this scarcity & survival mentality that has continued to drag us down into oblivion and will continue to do so if we refuse to think beyond the present.
Some of us are very bullish about changing the narrative. We don’t care about how it will cost us and will never settle for less and sell our conscience for peanuts. It’s a simple but potent universal rule at play. Value yourself and others will be attracted to your value. When the foundation is weak, every other part is affected. Let these be a clarion call to these big groups and stakeholders who have in the past years created an attractive and congenial market environment, to come up with sane regulations to guide the influx of foreign brands and how we engage them.
We need to push an Africa agenda through regulatory framework. and stricter antitrust laws just as we have in other climes to protect startups in the blockchain space. SIBAN, Blockchain User Group, Kenya Blockchain Association etc. must act now or be left as white elephants with no influence.
No doubt we need the big players but it should be based purely on mutually beneficial partnerships that puts Africa first just as in top economies of the world like China. The African market needs to slow down the rate it adopts and buys into imported brands that have no regards for collaborative practices. We can’t keep up the pretense by allowing them to just come in with their financial war chest and crowd out indigenous ones, who are doing everything with no government or institutional support, lest we’ll be shooting ourselves in the foot. We need more collaboration for a win-win.
China supports their startups. If we decide to go the free market way especially in this fast growing revolution, there will not be any business for our continent as far as decentralization is concerned. Remember, the game of the future is all about who controls DATA and China has a long playbook to control data. Someone needs to rise up to the occasion and be the proverbial hummingbird.
The Chinese and everyone else are only interested in exploiting Africans. Everyone comes to Africa to milk; only Africans struggle to do anything meaningful in other foreign markets literally. Today we have ACFTA, and again, it will be a mistake, if we don’t have a playbook on how we seek to build the business sector with our smart ambitious minds scattered across the continent.
I have grown to see Africa lagging behind with glorious titles of consumers and laggards with almost all the major disruptive technologies from early days of TV, Internet,Email, E-Commerce, Mobile Phone, Social Media. All the above,there were some proprietary rights to use or own, we do not have any more excuse this time to take advantage of the 4IR, especially Blockchain.
In simple terms,Blockchain is not a proprietary asset to any particular race, it is, in my opinion first to be floated to the world for anyone to leverage and leapfrog in advancing the activities of life. Africa is over 100 years behind the pace of development as compared to Europe, America and most parts of Asia.
For us to triple our continent development, we need to be more deliberate and use technology and innovation as a tool to catch up. It is estimated that, Africa will have more population by 2050 with cities such as Lagos, Kinshasa, Addis, Delisalem etc being the most populous globally.
This can be a social misfit or economic strength for Africa, if we step up our game with a different approach to what we have been doing in the last 100 years.
I am an optimist who believe in our collective reawakening to build the next Africa, where the son of a nobody can rise through hard work, dedication, commitment, honesty, openness, being compassionate and empathetic to become the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Jack Ma of this world. The simple truth is there is a need for a mindset shift from survival and scarcity instincts to an abundance mentality with focus based on value than the short gain route.
This Time is Africa and only Africans truly have the ultimate interest of Africa.
By Eric Annan – Pan African Entrepreneur on a mission; changing the narrative.
Gender equality: It’s time for disruption, time to shatter the status quo, we can’t afford to wait!
Vanessa Moungar, Director of Gender, Women and Civil Society (Source: AfDB)
Women make up over 40% of African business owners yet only 2% are able to access finance according to a Mckinsey report
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 22, 2019- If you are a gender champion, then you are familiar with the discussions around the glass cliff. The story of women eager to defy the odds, accepting leadership roles at times of crisis, when the chance of failure is the highest. The truth is that many bold glass cliff climbers have succeeded without falling off.
Two of such champions come to my mind: the former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcah and Tokunboh Ishmael, co-founder of Aliethiea IDF.
Mulcah, Ishmael and likeminded agents of change have already shattered the status quo. So, when the first Global Gender Summit held in Africa kicks off on November 25th in Kigali, Rwanda, the international community will hurtle towards heeding the calls to dismantle barriers to women’s full participation and advancement economic development on the continent.
Women make up over 40% of African business owners yet only 2% are able to access finance according to a Mckinsey report. One in four women globally who start in a business come from Africa (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor).
The Summit, organised by the Multilateral Development Banks’ (MDBs) Working Group on gender, will be held in Africa for the first time ever, from the 25th to 27th November 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda. This year’s summit is hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and supported by other multilateral development banks as key partners.
Under the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality,” the Global Gender Summit will share best practices and seek innovative solutions that can be harnessed to empower women and girls in Africa and around the world.
We are excited to be bringing the world to Rwanda, a country that has set a strong example when it comes to promoting women’s rights and representation.
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Rwanda was the first country in the world with a female majority in parliament, currently at 67.5 %, following October parliamentary polls. Out of a total parliamentary membership of 80, women occupy 54 seats. This feat puts the nation ahead of even the most developed nations.
From the massive financing gap for women-led enterprises, inadequate data, laws and cultural norms that negatively affect women, to a lack of representation in business and politics, the challenges are great.
But the opportunities are there too.
Discussions will focus on the main barriers to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, namely: scaling up innovative financing, fostering an enabling environment and ensuring women’s participation and voices. Sectors to be addressed will include climate change, the digital revolution, private sector and human capital and productive employment.
In Africa, women-led enterprises face a whopping $42 billion financing gap. One of the Bank’s flagship gender-focused projects is its Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), which seeks to accelerate growth and employment creation across African economies, by closing the financing gap for women.
Over the next 5 years, AFAWA is expected to unlock $3 billion in private sector financing to empower female entrepreneurs through capacity-building development, access to finance as well as policy, legal and regulatory reforms to support enterprises led by women.
Our Fashionomics Africa initiative supports the African textiles and fashion industries by building the capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises in the textile and clothing sector, especially those run by women and youth. By using technology as a driver for the development of skills and capacity in Africa’s creative industries, the African Development Bank aims to stimulate job creation on the continent. At the summit, we will unveil an innovative online marketplace for designers across the continent.
That’s just some of the exciting news. We will use the opportunity of the Global Gender Summit to launch a number of initiatives to dramatically transform the landscape of access to finance for women across the continent.
These include the Africa Gender Index- a joint African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report that assesses African countries on gender equality.
The launch of the AFAWA/AGF Risk Sharing Facility, which will de-risk lending to women through AGF’s partial, guarantees to financial institutions and its capacity development to women entrepreneurs.
As well as these continent-wide initiatives, we at the African Development Bank understand that change begins at home. That is why in 2018, the Bank rolled out its gender marker system to process, monitor, and promote gender mainstreaming in all its operations, with gender specialists as part of project teams and Bank operations.
By the end of last year, 40% of public sector Bank operations had been organised under the gender marker system, a major shift in the Bank’s way of doing business and commitment to gender mainstreaming.
We continue to support and build the individual power of girls and women across the countries we work in and never has the time been more urgent.
We expect the Global Gender Summit, to be a milestone event in the empowerment of women in Africa and beyond. See you there.
* This year’s Global Gender Summit, is hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and supported by other multilateral development banks as key partners.
By Vanessa Moungar, Director of Gender, Women and Civil Society
Egypt to establish 12 investment zones
The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI)
CAIRO – 8 November 2019: Egypt plans to establish 12 investment zones, creating 500 thousand direct and indirect jobs and attracting investments worth LE78 billion, Minister of Investments and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said Friday.
Nasr added while witnessing the signing of a protocol between the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) and the National Bank of Egypt that The protocol aims at boosting cooperation between GAFI and the National Bank of Egypt in developing the Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
The protocol will introduce a package of services including finance, and consultancy.
The Investment Ministry also plans to establish seven free zones, which are expected to create around 120 thousand jobs in Minya, South Sinai, New Ismailia, Aswan, Kafr el Sheikh and other places, the minister added.
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