Nigerian agritech startup, Releaf, has raised $3.3 million in a pre-Series A funding round to launch two new products, Kraken II and SITE. The funding was led by led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Consonance Investment Managers, Stephen Pagliuca (Chairman of Bain Capital) and Jeff Ubben (Board member at World Wildlife Fund and Founder of Inclusive Capital Partners).
The firm previously received $4.2 million in September 2021, $2.7 million in seed and $1.5 million in grants from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID.
Releaf was founded in 2017 by two Nigerians, Ikenna Nzewi and Uzoma Ayogu, who were based in the US at the time. While they started out with a different idea in mind, they eventually settled on value chains for crops spotting inefficiencies that could be solved by technology.
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Its first product, Kraken, which is a static palm nut de-sheller machine, was to replace the inefficient method that farmers used to extract vegetable oil. They were able to turn multiple species of very poor quality smallholder palm nut into high-quality palm kernel oil with the machine.
“After proving that, we needed to figure out how to best place this technology dynamically and, over the last couple of months, made progress on Kraken’s evolution from being static to being portable and reducing the cost significantly [Kraken II] while adding new products [SITE] to complement the suite of tech that we have already,” Ayogu siad.
Kraken II is an upgrade of the startup’s first product while SITE is geospatial mapping application that discloses food processing assets. They had help from Stanford University’s Professor David Lobell, a MacArthur Fellow, and Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, who led a team that refined the age identification process for oil palm trees in Nigeria.
These two new products will improve planning capabilities and get the best margins for farmers by being in the right places and at the proper season.
So far, Releaf has used its supply chain technology to process more than 10 million kilograms of palm nuts since the launch of Kraken in 2021. It has secured more than $100 million in supply contracts from consumer goods manufacturers in Nigeria and aims to further increase its revenue in 2023. In 2022, TechCrunch reports that the company grew its revenue by seven times year-on-year.
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