Twiga Foods has announced a $10 million investment led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.

The investment was co-led by TLcom, a pan-African venture capital (VC) firm with participation from previous investors DOB Equity, 1776, Adolph H.Lundin and Wamda Capital.

Twiga Foods is a Kenya-based startup that connects smallholder farmers in rural areas to informal retail vendors in cities. Twiga’s mobile commerce platform enables vendors to order fresh produce for a fair price from farmers across Kenya as and when required.

“The IFC and TLcom investment will enable us to reach more farmers, improve efficiency in service delivery and increase access to high-quality produce and foodstuffs for vendors,” said Grant Brooke, the chief executive officer at Twiga Foods. “We will continue in our mission to provide affordable, quality and safe food to Kenya’s urban consumers and reliable markets for farmers across the country.”

The investment will be used to expand the company’s operations and offer new services.

“Access to markets is a key concern for smallholder farmers across Africa, many of whom live in remote areas,” said Nikunj Jinsi, global head of venture capital at the IFC. “IFC’s investment in Twiga supports a disruptive startup that is helping create a more transparent, efficient supply chain which connects farmers directly to markets, helping them earn more.”

Launched in 2014, Twiga now works with more than 13,000 farmers and 6000 vendors in Kenya. It began by matching vendors to banana farmers but now works with other produce suppliers such as tomatoes, cabbage, mango, and onion.

The company operates collection centres across the country as well as a fleet of trucks and vans for collection and distribution of produce which helps to prevent damage, something that usually occurs during delivery. Farmers who sign up with Twiga receive a payment within 24 hours.

“Twiga is proving that smart use of technology and innovative business models can vastly improve large and inefficient African markets such as the agricultural supply chain,” said Maurizio Caio, managing partner at TLcom.

Agriculture is a key driver of Kenya’s economy, accounting for about 25 per cent of total gross domestic product (GDP).

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