Founder of EZFarming Wale Oparinde, with other members of the 25th batch of 500 Startups Accelerator Programme in San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA).

Funding is one of the most teething challenges for farmers and agriculture in general in Nigeria and the African continent.

Much as farmers are willing and ready to work, a lot of them are unable to get to do so or expand their farms due to lack of access to funding.

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Agri-tech Crowdfunding Platforms: Bridging the Gap

Several smallholder farmers in the country are without access to funding, largely due to exorbitant rates charged by banks.

On the other hand, the few investors ready to bankroll farmers fear that the agriculturists do not have the needed skills to guarantee a return on investment.

Seeing that the African food market is projected to hit the $1 trillion mark in 2030, the role of agri-tech crowdfunding and investments platforms in Nigeria, therefore, becomes highly valuable.

Over the years, several agri-tech investment or crowdfunding companies have provided funding, training and improved seedlings, among others, for farmers.

What Is Crowdfunding?

Basically, crowdfunding is raising funds by a great number of persons who bring out small amounts of money.

In crowdfunding, people come together to contribute money, usually small amounts, for a project and get back their capital with interest at an agreed time, and rate. Crowd funding is done via the internet, mostly.

How Agri-tech Crowdfunding, Investment Platforms Work

Crowdfunding platforms work in almost similar fashion across the world irrespective of their area of focus.

For agri-tech investment platforms, they get into the hinterlands where farmers mostly reside and take data of those who actually need funding for their agribusinesses.

In cases where these farmers do not have adequate skills to scale their businesses, agri-tech crowdfunding platforms train them before they are deemed fit to get financial backing.

This is not just to ensure that investors’ money are safe, but it also makes the farmers better which, on the long run, have a ripple effect on the agricultural sector.

Agri-tech crowdfunding platforms receive money from individuals and corporate bodies.

Just as little drops of water make an ocean, these seemingly small amounts of money form a pool of fund and then handed over to verifiable and competent farmers at low-interest rates.

Repayments by farmers are mostly done few weeks after harvest (interest rate and time range depend on the crowdfunding platform).

Top Crowdfunding Platforms in Nigeria

Several agri-tech crowdfunding platforms have sprung up in Nigeria and Africa to bridge the gap between investors and farmers.

Some of them have been around for a while just as others are starting off but, nevertheless, making appreciable impacts.

Here is a rundown of the major agri-tech crowdfunding and investments platforms in Nigeria:

1.  EZfarming

In the last quarter of 2018, EZFarming launched in Nigeria and is the first Farm Accelerator that connects local farmers with finance and ready markets for their produce.

It offers one of the highest Return-on-Investment (RoI) – some as high as 30% – with investment options spread across a wide range of agricultural produce.

It has operations in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

The idea to start this crowd funding platform came in 2015 but it did take rigorous research before it finally went “live.”

The founder, Dr. Adewale Oparinde, in 2016, did a pilot work on the concept with about 300 smallholder farmers in Oyo State, South West, Nigeria, before launching the EZfarming platform.

EZFarming says they use data to glean insight and find the right farmers “that have potential to go to scale and work with them to identify resources and expertise needed to scale their farms to commercial size.”

So far, EZfarming has given out more than $600, 000, via the help of over 600 micro-lenders, to at least 120 farmers in Africa.

The company’s core vision is empowering small-scale farmers on the continent to enable them move their businesses to a commercial scale.

EZFarming enjoys the backing of top agricultural research institutes from across the world and is on a mission to help more than 150 million small-holder farmers in Africa who cannot access bank loans.

2. Farm Crowdy

This agri-tech investment and crowdfunding platform pride itself as the pioneer digital agricultural platform in Nigeria that empowers rural farms.

Aside from the training of these rural farmers in modern agribusiness techniques, it also gives them better seedlings and provides a market where their (farmers) products can be sold.

Farm Crowdy started off in 2016 and boosts of empowering more than 11,000 small-scale farmers in the West African nation.

Also, it has the vision of expanding their frontiers to reach more farmers scattered across Nigeria in the coming years thus contributing to the country’s food security and economic prosperity.

3. Farmsponsor

This agri-tech firm was founded by Akpan Bill in May, 2018 after he stumbled into the idea of a crowdfunding business for those in the agricultural sector in December 2017.

At Farmsponsor, interested individuals bankroll farmers and at the end, get a 15% return on their investment (s). This, usually, lasts for 12 weeks after harvest.

According to the agri-tech investment platform, it has a crop of farmers who are skilled and ready to be backed financially.

The company’s vision is to use technology to ensure food availability and make sure that, as much people as possible, take part in agriculture.

4. Thrive Agric

Another crowdfunding platform in the country is Thrive Agric which runs with the notion that with one farmer at a time, it would raise Nigeria’s agricultural participation.

The agricultural investment platform does this by letting individuals fund a farm easily with a pledge to bring back profitable returns to the investors.

With this, Thrive Agric leaves both farmers and investors with returns, smiling to the bank.

5. Naturfund

This investment platform does not just serve as a link between retailers, farmers and investors in Nigeria; it covers other African nations, also.

The online platform empowers startups, projects as well as businesses and claims of being able to “raise a high net worth funds to invest in the lucrative businesses in our platform, to multiply the funds of the investors.”

6. Growsel

It is an award-winning crow funding organization that brings the “underserved Base of the Pyramid smallholder farmers with lenders” globally to reduce poverty.

This startup, founded on May 23, 2018, has its head office in Indianapolis, the U.S and also in Nigeria’s commercial backbone, Lagos.

It has a 96% repayment rates, over 1 million registered farmers with 15, 000 of them verified.

This agricultural investment platform is 90% women-focused as it simplifies farming via the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT).

7. E-farms

With 19 farms, 300 investors and overs $180,000 given out to farmers, E-Farms is rightly re-positioning agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to providing funding for smallholder farmers, it trains youths on how to build and grow several agribusinesses.

E-farm believes that “Together everyone achieves more” in the agricultural sector.

The agri-tech crowdfunding and investment platform, based in Iseyin, Oyo State, South West, Nigeria, trains farmers in several agribusinesses before giving them access to funds to improve their farming businesses.