Khula, the South African agritech startup, has raised $1.3 million seed round led by AECI, and joined by E Squared, a impact investment fund based in South Africa.

The startup said it raised the funding a year ago but kept it under the wraps to time it with the launch of its app.

Founded by Karidas Tshintsholo, Matthew Piper and Jackson Dyora three years ago, Khula provides small-scale and commercial size farmers with software and a marketplace to grow their business.

Khula is an ecosystem made with three products.

The Inputs App allows farmers to access approved agricultural inputs and services from local and international suppliers.

The second is the Fresh Produce Marketplace, targeted at farmers with challenges cited earlier. It allows farmers to sell produce directly to local and international formal bulk buyers. By allowing farmers to engage and negotiate prices with suppliers, the platform aims to reduce the access middlemen have that has led to the exploitation of farmers.

Then, the Funder Dashboard connects institutional investors with farmers who meet their funding mandates.

Leveraging digital technology to enhance agriculture, trade, marketing and all that’s needed to ease operation in the sector, the new application will help in enabling the ease and efficiency of the agricultural supply chain.

The application will also link farmers to local and international suppliers and service providers, allowing them to sell in bulk.

“The reason we’ve gone with this ecosystem approach is that it’s more of a sticky business model,” Tshintsholo said. “So we want to allow farmers to use our ecosystem to buy the products they need and get the services they need.”

Commenting on the seed round, Tshintsholo said: “AECI is exactly the kind of investor we were looking for at this early stage – we did not want an investor at the table who was ONLY going to ask us how we’d performed in a specific quarter, we wanted a long term partner that would execute with us.

“A partner with a great reputation in the industry and with an incredible distribution network; a partner whose long term success was tied to a business model like ours. And AECI fits that description perfectly for us.”

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