The money which is part of Safaricom’s US$1 million Spark Venture Fund is meant to enable Farm Drive scale up its solution making financial services accessible to smallholder farmers.
The amounts of funding provided have not been disclosed although the according to officials, individual investments range between US$75,000 and US$250,000.
Farm Drive which is the fifth beneficiary of the fund provides a simple digital record-keeping platform that enables farmers to keep track of their farming activities using a mobile phone.
The farmers’ data combined with existing agricultural data is used to develop a comprehensive credit profile, to be used for the farmers’ credit assessment by financial institutions when they need funding.
The startup was launched in 2014 and as of 2017, it has over 3,000 farmers registered on its platform, and has helped farmers access over KShs13 million (US$130,000) in loans to date.
Speaking to Kenyan local Press, Bob Collymore, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Safaricom said the funds will be used to push FarmDrive into its next growth phase, enabling it to further build out its credit scoring model, as well as hiring staff in the areas of research, analysis and insight generation.
“In an era when market uncertainty is creating new challenges for the agricultural sector, mobile-based technology solutions like FarmDrive can empower farmers with the critical access to finance and to help expand their access to other essential services,” Bob Collymore reportedly said.
Launched in 2014, the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund has backed four other startups including on-demand package delivery startup Sendy; mobile research tool mSurvey; e-learning startup Eneza Education; and informal sector employment app Lynk.