Complete Farmer, an end-to-end digital, agricultural marketplace that connects African farmers and global industries to competitive markets, resources, data, and each other on a single platform, raises $10.4 million in a Pre-Series A funding round of equity and debt. The equity portion of the round was co-led by the Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF) and Alitheia Capital via its uMunthu II Fund in partnership with Goodwell Investments, who were joined by Proparco, Newton Partners and VestedWorld Rising Star Fund. Debt financing was provided by Sahel Capital’s SEFAA (Social Enterprise Fund for Agriculture in Africa) Fund, Alpha Mundi Group through its Alpha Jiri Investment Fund and Global Social Impact Investments, to fund both CAPEX and working capital investments in support of short and long-term growth.

Complete Farmer currently offers two main solutions tailored to farmers and agricultural commodity buyers. On the one hand, its farmer-focused product, CF Grower helps African farmers optimize their productivity, access global markets, and improve their livelihoods through precision farming tools and data-driven cultivation protocols. CF Buyer, on the other hand, serves buyers across the world by providing them with reliable and easy access to commodities grown to meet their specifications. On the platform, buyers can access a large network of qualified growers, get quality certified crops through a seamless digitized process, and transparently monitor the progress of their orders from order to fulfilment, giving them full control of their procurement process.

A McKinsey report highlights the economic significance of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, given that the sector contributes around 23% to the region’s GDP, and the social significance, given that agricultural productivity is predominantly driven by smallholder farmers, who constitute 60% of the population. Despite the glaring opportunity this presents for Africa’s agricultural industry, the sector is rife with supply chain and infrastructure bottlenecks that make it difficult to effectively participate in global supply chains. Given the prevalence of small and medium-sized farms, boosting productivity holds the key to enhancing economic conditions in African nations. Complete Farmer is looking to transform the approach to farming by building technological and physical infrastructure to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the agricultural industry in Africa. Desmond Koney, the CEO of Complete Farmer, is building a comprehensive one-stop resource for African agriculture leveraging proprietary cultivation protocols for crop production that make it possible for smallholder and commercial farmers to grow crops that meet global market specifications, thereby guaranteeing post-harvest offtake.

The $10.4 million raised will be instrumental in amplifying Complete Farmer’s impact and reach. Since its inception in 2017 and launch on TechCrunch’s Battlefield Africa stage in 2018, the platform has successfully brought together over 12,000 farmers across 5 key regions in Ghana and overseen the cultivation of over 30,000 acres of land, delivering commodities to Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world, as well as reducing post-harvest losses. These compelling milestones reflect Complete Farmer’s substantial progress and its contributions to the industry.

“At Complete Farmer, we are on a mission to revolutionize Africa’s agriculture value chain, to ensure competitiveness for all stakeholders involved ” said Desmond Koney, CEO of Complete Farmer. “We are thrilled to welcome our new partner investors, who are seasoned experts in the industry and have a profound understanding of our mission which enables them make valuable contributions along our entire supply chain. It is a pleasure to have partners who share our belief in Complete Farmer’s potential impact on sustainable food production and food security in Africa and the rest of the world.”

The funds will be strategically allocated towards driving Complete Farmer’s expansion plans, facilitating the scaling of its operations, and further enhancing its technology infrastructure. Complete Farmer will invest in the continuous development and enhancement of its digital platform, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience for farmers, buyers, and all users of the platform. The funds will also be channelled towards driving further research into the company’s proprietary data-driven farming protocols and other innovations to improve its efficiency and maximize its effectiveness in helping farmers optimize farming practices and increase yields.

“Having been with Complete Farmer from the start as investors, we have had the privilege of witnessing Complete Farmer’s incredible journey unfold over the past six years.” adds Ashwin Ravichandran, Portfolio Advisor at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Africa. “The progress achieved by Desmond and the team are truly commendable. The addition of new investors further fuels our anticipation for the business’s extended impact. With fresh perspectives and resources, Complete Farmer is poised for remarkable expansion, and we are excited about the journey ahead”

Complete Farmer aims to expand its domestic operations and break into new African countries. This will enable the company to reach more farmers providing them with access to quality inputs, technical expertise, and market opportunities. The funding will also allow Complete Farmer to forge strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the agriculture and technology sectors and build a formidable team for the next phase of growth the company foresees.

Tamer El-Raghy, Managing Director of ARAF, says: “We are pleased to co-Lead this investment round, having been impressed with the progress that Complete Farmer has made in facilitating access to global trade for Ghanaian farmers, as well as introducing them to new crops and sustainable farming practices. Our goal at ARAF is to invest and grow local enterprises that support smallholder farmers in building resilience to climate change. Complete Farmer’s technology platform and farming protocols enable farmers’ access quality inputs, agronomical support, and premium markets, resulting in improved yields and income as reported by the farmers themselves. We are therefore excited to partner with Complete Farmer over the next phase of its growth through expanding in Ghana and to other parts of the region.”

Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Partner at Alitheia Capital, adds “We are proud of Complete Farmer’s work and the opportunity to amplify our desired outcomes of fortifying the African agricultural value chain and bolstering export prospects through this investment in Complete Farmer. Employing home-grown technology developed in Africa, Complete Farmer serves as a vital bridge that connects local farmers and their products with global markets and financial resources. This connectivity results in increased incomes for farmers, elevated product quality, broader access for buyers, and an overall enhancement of global trade dynamics”

Proparco, a subsidiary of Agence Frainçaise de Développement (AFD) focused on private sector development, sees significant value in Complete Farmer’s innovative approach. “We are proud to partner with such pioneering Ghanaian entrepreneurs. Complete Farmer is a unique digital platform that helps African farmers optimize their productivity and improve their access to offtake,” stated Sadio Dicko, Proparco’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa. “This investment, alongside other Proparco’s partners, will provide Complete Farmer with additional resources to both improve its digital infrastructure and tap into new markets for the benefit of the African agriculture sector”

Creator: Christina Morillo | Credit: Pexels

Women are often judged based on what they have done, and men by what they say they will do. This has deep implications for women – particularly women with leadership ambitions – as gender plays a role in how society judges leadership potential. On the back of yesterday’s global celebration of the International Day of the Girl, here is an article I wrote on how women can navigate through the minefield and nudge people out of their gender bias.

In my opinion, more often than not, women are judged based on what they have done, and men by what they say they will do. The glaring disconnect here is that one group’s personal qualities and potential are lauded and in the other group (women), not as much and may even count against them. This, according to research from the University of Kent , has deep implications for women – particularly women with leadership ambitions . The researchers conclude by stating the obvious: that gender plays a role in workplace discrimination and how society judges leadership potential.

A common trait of the human race is unconscious bias. It affects the way we see the world and the way the world sees us. On a deeper level, it entrenches behavioral expectations based on gender prescriptions. Although, there is little that can be done to eliminate unconscious bias, there are ways to navigate through the minefield and nudge people out of their gender bias base. Here are some tips:

Be ready: A substantial number of business discussions and decisions are made in spaces exclusive to men, where relationships are formed on flexible social terms and deals sealed over a handshake. A recent article in the Financial Times notes that “traditional means of building networks between investors and entrepreneurs are not necessarily gender-neutral.” This, amongst other social and structural issues, limits the opportunities for women to participate in similar deals, secure financing, and achieve their career/professional goals. However, do not despair. One way to overcome this hurdle is to create your own opportunities. Craft your elevator pitch, strengthen your network, and be ready to pitch at the drop of a hat. Remember, the seeds of success are birthed when opportunity meets preparedness.

Brag: Understand that you have a limited window of time to capture and hold a person’s attention. So, wherever you are, leverage opportunities to sell yourself and what you do. Do not be afraid to brag. As women, we are often reticent to talk about our successes, perhaps due to social conditioning. Whatever your reasons, be brave, put them aside, and give others the opportunity to experience your brilliance and lay their biases aside. Remember, if you do not say it, others are unable to read your mind and know it. Be both comprehensive and succinct in sharing the qualitative and quantitative aspects of your successes. Share your aspirations with enthusiasm to pique the interest of your audience, and have them wanting to learn more about you and your opportunity.

Be intentional: Intentionality is key; and everything you do matters. It is important to apply this in every sphere of your life, bearing in mind that today’s actions will count towards future decisions about you. Intentionality also enables you to build your career purposefully and, thus, have experiences/successes to talk about. As a private equity investor, we consider both past actions and future aspirations of founders as indicators of their ability to manage and scale their business. Remember, when it comes to raising funds and/or seeking leadership roles your actions and aspirations are your currency.