Agritech startup iFarmer raises $2.1 million
Largest agritech funding in Bangladesh led by IDLC Ventures and joined by Millville Opportunities
iFarmer, a full-stack agriculture platform providing agri-based services to farmers, has recently raised $2.1 million (more than Tk18 crore) in a new financing round, maintaining its accelerated growth.
IDLC Venture Capital Fund, the VC arm of IDLC Finance, one of the largest non-banking financial institutions in Bangladesh, led the financing round, reads a press release.
Millville Opportunities, a hedge fund firm based in New York, participated in the round. Startup Bangladesh Limited, the flagship venture capital fund of the ICT Ministry under the Bangladesh Government, also participated in the financing round.
Bangladesh has about 16.5 million farmers, and almost 80% are smallholders. The biggest challenges for farmers in Bangladesh are securing finance and good quality agricultural inputs such as seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, etc, and then finding buyers to sell their produce.
iFarmer, which started its operations in 2019, is the largest agri-tech company in the country, offering solutions to these problems at scale. iFarmer facilitates retail and institutional funders to finance the farmers and enables access to high-quality agri-inputs through a partnership with companies and retailers.
This, in turn, creates better market access for the farmers by aggregating products from the farmers and selling those to institutional buyers, retailers and the wholesale markets.
"We are currently operating in 19 districts in Bangladesh - serving close to 63,000+ farmers, up from about 6,000 farmers in 2020", says Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iFarmer Fahad Ifaz.
iFarmer works with nearly 2,900 agri-input retailers to supply agriculture inputs, enabling the farmers to buy quality agro-inputs at an affordable price from nearby retailers. iFarmer currently supplies 8000+ tons of agri produce directly procured from the farmers and then sells to institutional buyers, wholesale markets, and retailers.
iFarmer has grown on every front, including the revenue, which increased by 7.7 times in 2022. The revenue is driven by the supply of agri produce to the market, sales of agri-inputs to the retailers, and commission from financing.
"When we started supplying farm produce in June 2020, our monthly volume was around 50+ tons. Now it's almost 8000+ tons. Every day, we aggregate produce from farmers and supply it to the market," said Co-Founder and COO of iFarmer Jamil M Akbar.
CEO of iFarmer Fahad Ifaz has worked for almost 10 years for agricultural and rural development across South Asia with organizations like the World Bank, CARE, and Swisscontact. Meanwhile, Jamil Akbar has a background in technology and project management for large scale IT companies serving global clients. With a team of 120 members, iFarmer has more than 63,000 farmers, and more than 2,900 agricultural retailers and is operating in 19 districts.
"The IDLC Venture Capital Fund I aim to finance promising new businesses which are solving fundamental problems for Bangladesh. We are excited that iFarmer is unlocking the true potential of the agriculture sector through technology at scale. It is using innovation to enable farmers all across Bangladesh, and we believe they are solving the most crucial problems in the industry's supply chain", said Mustafizur Khan, Partner, IDLC VC 1.
Managing Partner of Millville Opportunities Alejandro Montealegre said: "iFarmer has proven that it can significantly improve the lives of farmers while bringing efficiency to the agri supply chain. We are excited to back iFarmer as they are working to transform the agriculture sector that is critical to the economy of Bangladesh."
The startup plans to deploy the fresh capital to expand to more districts in Bangladesh, expand its supply chain infrastructure to supply agri inputs, and also aggregate farm produce. iFarmer has also been conducting pilots on agriculture insurance and developing sensor and remote sensing-based advisory services such as soil analysis, fertilizer recommendation, and weather advisory.