BY TOM JACKSON
Kenyan company Komaza, a tech-enabled, sustainable forestry company that is revolutionising the wood industry in Africa through its innovative smallholder platform, has secured US$28 million in Series B funding to help it grow its impact.
Komaza uses artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite data to map existing tree growth and real-time mobile apps on the ground to track farmer progress, and has so far planted six million trees with 25,000 smallholder farmers. The company’s “microforestry” model represents a paradigm shift in the industry from large, costly plantations to distributed partnerships with local farmers.
Three years after raising Series A funding, Komaza has now announced a first close of US$28 million of its planned US$33 million Series B equity financing. Series A lead Novastar Ventures is a returning investor, co-leading the round alongside Novastar LPs AXA Investment Managers and the Dutch development bank FMO. There is also participation by Mirova’s Land Degradation Neutrality Fund.
With this latest funding closed, Komaza is well on its way towards its goal of planting one billion trees by 2030, benefiting over two million farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and doubling existing tree cover across all operating landscapes.
“For every acre of habitat lost on Kenya’s coast, more species go extinct than anywhere on the planet,” said Tevis Howard, Komaza’s founder and chief executive officer (CEO).
“Massive challenges need ambitious companies fighting to create value and align incentives around solutions that work for both people and planet. At Komaza, our vision is to become Africa’s largest forestry company, by partnering with farmers to provide a sustainable and hyper-scalable domestic supply of wood. As a result, farmers get a climate-resilient, zero-risk, source of wealth creation for their families, and investors get commercial returns, all while relieving the intense pressure on remaining natural forests.”
Komaza, which is also supported by Conservation International, represents a new, highly scalable approach to conservation – one that puts livelihood generation and economic growth at the centre of environmental restoration and promotes the role of forestry as a natural solution to mitigate climate change.
“Our partnership with Komaza provides a practical model for aligning the interests of local communities with global objectives to combat climate change, protect ecosystems and their inherent biodiversity. Partnerships with the farmers and a close relationship with the supply chain will empower communities to not only help preserve local biodiversity but also drive an additional source of income,” said Jonathan Dean, head of impact investing at AXA Investment Managers.