In 2016, a company by the name of Shamba Pride embarked on a mission to improve the distribution of farm inputs to farmers in need. Through its innovative merchant network, known as digishops, this agtech aimed to address issues of price exploitation and quality concerns in the agricultural supply chain.
Over the years, Shamba Pride has successfully established a network of merchants, or agro-dealers, spanning 24 counties in Kenya. This represents over half of the country and has paved the way for the company to expand even further in the coming year. Plans are in place to reach more retailers and agricultural regions, and eventually to explore neighboring markets such as Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. These countries face similar challenges in their farm input supply chains, including sourcing, unpredictable pricing, quality issues, and stockouts.
This growth in Kenya, which includes the expansion of its franchise network, has been made possible by a $3.7 million pre-series A funding from the EU agriculture financing initiative EDFI AgriFI and Seedstars Africa Ventures (SAV). Of this amount, $1.7 million is in equity, with the remaining $1.1 million raised in 2021 from SAV and Gray Matters Capital.
Shamba Pride’s core offering is the digitization of agro-dealers, providing them with tools and technology to manage their business operations and order inventory. This, in turn, ensures that essential supplies like fertilizers and seeds are readily available to millions of small-scale farmers in rural areas.
“Agriculture distribution in rural communities is heavily controlled by agro-dealers who decide how farmers access inputs, services and training. We are empowering these agro-dealers by giving them the right tools and technology for visibility of their businesses, for their professional and commercial development and right support for farmers around them,” says Samuel Munguti, founder and CEO of Shamba Pride.
In addition to supporting agro-dealers, Shamba Pride also assists farmers by providing market linkages, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) financial services, and training information through its USSD platform. The primary target audience is small-scale farmers in the Kenyan agriculture sector, which is responsible for 33% of the country’s gross domestic product and employs over 40% of its population. In rural settings, this number rises to over 70%. Furthermore, the sector accounts for 65% of Kenya’s export earnings, making it a crucial part of the economy and a key area for innovators to focus on.
“Shamba Pride’s success is based on innovations that facilitate day-to-day farming activities. We’ve been proud to support a scalable model that creates additional revenues for farmers and agrovets (agro-dealers) and strongly contributes to successful women entrepreneurship,” states Maxime Bouan, a general partner at SAV.
SAV is a sector-agnostic fund that specializes in startups addressing basic needs like education, healthcare, and utilities, or those that enhance goods, services, and efficiency.
To ensure that small-holder farmers have access to “climate-smart” farm inputs, Shamba Pride partners with companies like French multinational Elephant Verve. This is part of the agtech’s strategy to build resilience for small-holder farmers and promote sustainable agriculture.