BY TOM JACKSON
Tanzanian agri-tech company East Africa Fruits has closed a Series A funding round worth US$3.1 million as it aims to build essential supply chain infrastructure and better transport fresh produce directly from farms to urban marketplaces.
Founded by social entrepreneur Elia Timotheo in 2013, East Africa Fruits addresses food distribution challenges to improve efficiencies in the farm-to-market sector via a B2B e-commerce platform.
The company provides a stable, fair market for horticulture crops by aggregating supply and demand and improving cold chain distribution and warehousing infrastructure that reduces post-harvest loss and increases availability and quality of produce in local markets.
East Africa Fruits has now secured US$3.1 million in Series A equity and debt capital will help the company to grow its operations. The round was led by Goodwell Investments with participation from FINCA Ventures and elea.
Over the next three years, the company plans to serve over 10,000 farmers and 6,000 small-and-medium enterprise (SME) vendors. The company will also acquire new machinery for its main distribution centre and build essential infrastructure and technology to collect, store and distribute produce to match demand more accurately.
“The completion of our Series A funding opens up incredible opportunities for East Africa Fruits,” said Timotheo. “We’re eager to scale our operations, expand the reach of our smallholder farmer network and our distribution footprint, and ultimately to demonstrate real impact in the lives of local farmers and informal food vendors.”
Joel Wanjohi, associate partner and lead investment manager for East Africa at Goodwell Investments, said he was excited for East Africa Fruits to be among his companay’s first agricultural investments as it broadens its portfolio to address food security.
“Tanzania is no exception to the food security problem: the majority of produce never reaches the market as a result of food wastage caused by poor food transportation, lack of cold chain food storage and inadequate market information for farmers,” he said.
“Our investment in East Africa Fruits will help address these challenges. The substantial impact on enhancing food security and empowering the farmers through market linkag