Benjamin Njenga: The Kenyan Startup That Bagged Sh4.8 Billion Funding

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Benjamin Njenga: The Kenyan Startup That Bagged Sh4.8 Billion Funding
Apollo Agriculture Co-founder Benjamin Njenga Photocredit/Apollo Agriculture

Kenyans are known all over the world for their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit that has sparked interest from international investors. In 2016, Benjamin Njenga together with his European friends established Apollo Agriculture – a company that seeks to helps small scale farmers maximize profits. Five years down the line, the startup has gone on to receive US$40 million (approximately Ksh4.8 billion) in equity funding.

Here is what WoK has gathered about the startup.

Background

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Apollo Agriculture is a modern technological company that helps farmers maximize profits in the market by offering them a platform that provides information on potential markets for their farm produce, insurance and financial services. According to their website, the company builds credit profiles for local farmers, verifies their identity and takes satellite coordinates of their fields.

The data is then used to build automated digital processes for every step in a farmer’s life cycle. The company was founded in 2016 by Benjamin Njenga, and his European friends Earl St Sauver and Eli Pollak. By the end of last year, the company had worked with 120,000 farmers, with plans to double the number by the end of this year. It has a network of over 1,000 retailers, 300 employees and 5,000 agents in the country. How the company works is that agents’ onboard farmers to the Apollo platform while retailers use the startup’s checkout app to handle point of sale, inventory, source wholesale orders and access to trade credit.

The Ksh4.8 billion funding

The company recently participated in Series B – a pool of funding by global investors who help start-up companies grow and expand. It was able to raise a total of Ksh4.8 billion from big corporate organizations such as Chan Zuckerberg Foundation and SoftBank Vision Fund – a financial institution with its headquarters in London, United Kingdom. Others companies that participated in the funding include; Yara Growth Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, CDC, Anthemis Exponential Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Leaps by Bayer, SBI, Breyer Capital and TO Ventures Food.

Benjamin Njenga: The Platform That Bagged Kenyan Startup Sh4.8 Billion Funding
Photocredit/Courtesy

This is not the first time Apollo has received funding, in 2020 it secured funding worth Ksh686 million which it used to expand its operations in other parts of the country. Apollo plans to use the new funding to refine its technology and deliver more products and services to farmers in East and Western Africa. During the funding, Eli Pollak who is Apollo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), revealed that the company has been working mostly with maize farmers but with the funding, it will diversify and join other sectors of agriculture.

“We began with maize. Maize is not perfect, but it has a profound advantage, as nearly every farmer cultivates the product in the region. This gives us a place where we can earn farmer’s trust and we can deliver value immediately. However, we seek to develop products that deliver more value per acre. That could be new crops that enable customers to earn money,” said the CEO.

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