Startup snapshot: Invest in Nigerian agriculture from anywhere in the world

Farmcrowdy is a Nigerian online platform which allows users (sponsors) to invest in the country’s agricultural sector.

Sponsors can choose what kind of farms (and crops) they want to invest in. Farmcrowdy then uses the investment to: secure land; engage and train the farmer in best agricultural practices; plant the seeds; insure the farmers and crops; complete the full farming cycle; sell the harvest; and then pay the farm sponsor a return on their investment. Sponsors are able to keep track of the full cycle through updates in text, pictures and videos.

Farmcrowdy founder, Onyeka Akumah, tells us about the risks facing the business and his most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

1. How did you finance your start-up?

We received seed funding from a Lagos-based investment house when we first launched in 2016. This was to get the idea to the market effectively. Following up on that we have also been selected as the only African start-up to participate in Techstars Atlanta this year. The funding from this programme has come in handy to get us to the next level.

2. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

3. What risks does your business face?

  • Biological risks which could cause pest and disease contamination. If our farms were exposed to biological risks, it would lead to lower yields and loss of income.
  • Currency fluctuation which can increase the cost of production, and in turn, affect the spending power of our farm sponsors.
  • Government policies which can influence (positively or negatively) our cost of operations and market access.
  • Civil unrest which could affect our farms and farmers
  • Supply-chain risk, including logistics and infrastructure, which could lead to food waste and create post-harvest losses.

4. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Referrals from one sponsor to another, encouraging them to participate in the agricultural revolution sweeping Nigeria. This has been majorly championed by word-of-mouth testimonials about the success we have had with our farmers and the relationship with our farm sponsors.

5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

My most exciting entrepreneurial moment has been being able to build a company out of an idea that was just on some paper. Seeing this idea grow, employing people to work on it and make something meaningful, and creating value for people we call customers, has been thrilling. This has been the most exciting part of my journey – moving from idea to business, to employer of labour, to value for customers.

6. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it.

The biggest mistake has been hiring the wrong people in the early stage of the business and working with the wrong technology partners. This can have a devastating effect on the success or failure of your business, and over time I have had to make hard decisions and let people go.

Going forward, we are proud of our current team. We are proud of the passion they bring to change lives and the selfless will to change the world one farmer at a time. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world having smart people around me, looking to solve an ambitious but real problem.