Tomato Jos, an agro-processing company focused on the local production of high-quality tomato paste for the African market has announced that it had completed a EUR 3.9 million ($4.2m) Series A round.
Goodwell Investments, via its West Africa partner Alitheia Capital, led the round with participation from Acumen Capital Partners and VestedWorld
Tomato Jos was founded by Mira Mehta in 2014 with the vision to create and retain local value-add to the tomato value chain, reduce post-harvest losses, and improve the lives of smallholder farmers.
Since its inception, the agritech startup has focused on securing its supply chain through primary production. The combined €3.9 million Series A funding boosts the transition to its next stage of growth — the processing and distribution of tomato products.
Growth plans include the installation of a drip irrigation system and a processing plant that can produce 24 tons of finished product per day.
At scale, Tomato Jos will work with thousands of smallholder farmers on over 2,600 hectares of land, putting more than $1M of direct income into the local economy each year.
“Processing has always been the plan for Tomato Jos, but to get there, we spent a long five years working only on farming and primary production to make sure that we had a really solid foundation in place”, commented Mira Mehta, founder, and CEO of Tomato Jos, on the investment.
“Everyone at the company is extremely excited to take this big step forward into the world of food processing and value-add production!”
While Nigeria is the second-largest producer of tomatoes on the continent, farming inefficiencies create a demand-supply gap resulting in Nigeria also being one of the biggest importers of tomato paste in the world.
The agritech startup works to increase yields and incomes of the local smallholder tomato farmers it works with, boosting the sector with an improved capacity of farmers, reduced post-harvest losses, and a high-quality product.
“With a rapidly growing population driving demand and an increasing focus on improving the sufficiency of the agriculture sector, there is a big opportunity for domestic tomato paste production,” said Mobola da-Silva, Partner at Alitheia, Goodwell’s investment partner in West Africa.
“Tomato Jos has chosen the right market, business model and management to succeed as a truly inclusive business within this environment.
“As an agro-processing company that sources from local smallholder farmers and provides affordable access to finance in the form of farming inputs to farmers, Tomato Jos is a good fit for uMunthu’s inclusive strategy of investing in agribusiness.”
By connecting local farmers to domestic consumers, Tomato Jos helps to improve the lives and incomes of smallholder farmers and increase the sustainability and stability of food supply in Nigeria.
Tomato Jos directly supports over 70 smallholder farmers across three growing cycles. During this time, smallholder farmers’ average yield has grown by over 340% from 5 to 22 metric tons per hectare, while their average income increased by 455%.
CrossBoundary provided advisory support to this transaction through USAID’s INVEST program, funded by the USAID Southern and East Africa Regional Missions in support of the US Government’s Prosper Africa initiative.
The advisory support helped Tomato Jos respond to critical investor questions as part of the due diligence process; and enabled Goodwell Investments, Acumen, and other investors to gain further insight into the size of the opportunity and the value that Tomato Jos has created up to this point.
“Acumen Capital Partners is thrilled to join Tomato Jos’ investors to help the company continue to develop a world-class vertically integrated tomato processing operation in Nigeria,” said Tamer El-Raghy, Managing Director of Acumen Capital Partners.
“Tomato Jos is positioned not only to locally produce tomato paste, which is mainly imported into Nigeria but to help Nigerian smallholder farmers increase their income by increasing their yield by 3-4x.”
“As investors in the Tomato Jos business since 2017, we are incredibly proud of this dedicated, resilient team and recognize the many obstacles overcome to get us to this point.
“The addition of Goodwell Investments, Alitheia, and Acumen Capital Partners will be a great resource for this highly impactful company, and we look forward to working with them,” remarked Jeffrey Stine, Managing Director of VestedWorld and Tomato Jos Board Member.
“I am really excited to partner with investors who understand and care about who Tomato Jos is, what we are trying to accomplish, and why this work matters so much,” noted Mehta.
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