US based impact investor Gray Matters Capital has today announced that it has funded Taimba, a Nairobi based B2B Agri-Tech start-up that runs a mobile-based cashless platform connecting rural small scale farmers to urban retailers under its gender lens portfolio – GMC coLABS to the tune of US$100,000.
Taimba sources agricultural products directly from the rural small-scale farmers and delivers directly to informal green grocers, schools, hospitals and restaurants within Nairobi, thereby removing the middlemen and shrinking the agricultural value chain.
It currently has over 2,000 farmers in its portfolio and engages with 15 farmer SACCOs (Savings and Credit Co-operatives) selling produce such as potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages and carrots on one side and 310 customers on the other comprising informal green grocers (85%), restaurants and cafés (10%) and Schools and hospitals (5%) based out in Nairobi.
Tangible Benefits for Farmers and Informal Retail Vendors alike
By piloting open contracts with Kenyan farmers, Taimba offers 20-30% higher prices as compared to brokers, helping generate better ROI along with direct linkage to urban markets. This also helps reduce post-harvest wastage by 50%. To tackle the problem of constrained cash flow, Taimba partners with financial institutions to provide loans for farmers to purchase certified seeds and fertilizers.
Technoserve – the international non-profit organization that promotes business solutions to poverty, has partnered with Taimba as its farmer outreach partner.
As for retailers, Taimba offers them the convenience of doorstep delivery of the produce, helping them to save on 3-4 hours of sourcing time and nearly US$ 2-3 on logistics. Besides that, they are assured of supply of high quality farm fresh produce at lower than market rates. Taimba has also rolled out a microloan facility for its retail customers to help them expand their businesses and to overcome liquidity challenges.
The Use of Funds
Speaking about the fund raise, Dominique Kavuisya, Co-Founder and CEO, Taimba said, “We are delighted to become a part of Gray Matters Capital’s portfolio through the coLABS funding. This is a validation of the work which we have been doing and the impact on-ground delivering value to vendors and farmers through our mobile platform. The funding is a shot in the arm for us to strengthen our warehouse infrastructure by setting up cold storage facilities and also our delivery logistics so that we can cater to 6 new markets within Nairobi.”
The start-up is also planning to pilot in Mombasa and Kisumu city by next year and will also look at introducing new products such as fruits, nuts and eggs as part of its farm product catalogue.
Joan Kavuisya, Co-Founder and Head of Product Development, who is passionate about shortening the value chain to reduce the cost of food and building traceability of fresh produce sources as a way to play her part in sustainable practices, said “Taimba will be all about quality fresh produce grown with good farming practices. We plan on using technology to fine tune traceability through-out the value chain-from seeds used to other farm inputs. We will expand our tech such that eventually there will be a simple solution that farmers and traders have a way to engage and benefit through us.”
Scope for Gendered Impact at Scale
Women constitute 83% of informal green grocers in Nairobi in the aged 22 to 39, and 80% of farmers in Kenya of an average age of 60.
“By delivering more money in their hands, in addition to the convenience of time, the women served by Taimba have an opportunity to create a better livelihood for themselves and their families”, said Jennifer Soltis, Portfolio Manager – coLABS, Gray Matters Capital. She goes on to add, “The team has built a solution that can be replicated in other markets in East Africa with minimal tweaks, and we are excited to partner with them in their growth journey.”
The funding marks the fourth investment by the impact investor in Africa after Rwanda based ARED, Ghana based Redbird Health Tech, and Nigeria based Sonocare.
Gray Matters Capital has also supported two start-ups from the continent – Kenya’s parent advisory turned e-commerce start-up MumsVillage and Sierra Leone head quartered EduFin start-up Mosabi as part of its global digital accelerator program –GMC Calibrator earlier this year.