Releaf, a Nigerian agro-tech start-up that develops proprietary hardware and software solutions for African farmers and food factories, has raised $ 2.7 million in seed funding in a round led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers, with the participation of Stephen Pagliuca, president of Bain Capital and Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch.
In addition, Releaf said it has secured $ 1.5 million in grants from the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The seed funding, according to Releaf, will enable the development of industrial food processing technology in the smallholder-led oil palm sector in Nigeria, while the grant will allow the company to provide working capital. and other value-added services to smallholders and small-scale processors. . The grant funding, he added, is expected to support the training, recruitment and retention of more women and youth in the oil palm sector in Nigeria through job creation. digital and technical.
Commenting on the new funding, Ikenna Nzewi, CEO and co-founder of Releaf, said the company’s mandate is to industrialize Africa’s agri-food industry, noting that the funding round would allow the company to develop and provide technological solutions to small farmers in the oil palm sector.
Nzewi further revealed that the new funding will enable better productivity and accelerate the eradication of the subordinate and archaic processes prevalent in Nigeria’s oil palm sector and the agricultural sector as a whole.
The CEO also pointed out that the financing will allow the company to generate more value and profitability along the oil palm value chain, as well as support the creation of direct and ancillary jobs in farming communities. from southern and eastern Nigeria.
“Releaf is committed to harnessing technology to accelerate the economic wealth of rural and agrarian societies across the continent. We firmly believe that a strong real economy is the foundation for sustainable and shared prosperity for Africans and we are delighted to deepen partnerships with like-minded organizations, governments and businesses, ”he said. he declares.
Also speaking, Rena Yoneyama, managing partner of Samurai Incubate Africa, said Releaf’s innovative approach to operating within the value chain with proprietary technology sets it apart from many other agri-tech startups. Yoneyama said he was convinced that the company’s thesis on decentralizing food processing would fit perfectly into the landscape of Africa’s economic development over the coming decades.
“Ikenna and Uzo are the perfect founders to disrupt this market in Nigeria and beyond. We are delighted to support them as they innovate by providing both agri-food and financial services to rural communities and farmers, ”he added.
Iyin Aboyeji, General Partner of Future Africa, said his company is delighted to support Releaf in building the future of modern agriculture. According to Aboyeji, Releaf is building the agro-allied industry of the future starting with palm oil for which they have developed a new technology to aggregate, shell and transform glycerin and vegetable oil into essential ingredients. He added that more than 50 percent of the products in supermarkets around the world contain glycerin, a palm oil extract, which gives Releaf a comparative advantage in its production.
For her part, Nneka Enwonwu, Country Relations Manager, Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) said the organization was delighted to partner with Releaf in its mission to improve farmers’ efficiency and profitability. and food factories in Africa.
Enwonwu expressed confidence that Releaf will bring real added value to rural communities and create digital / technical jobs for women and youth.
“We look forward to their results and success over the next few years and continue to support their work,” she said.