Startups

Twiga Foods Lands Over $30M, Nairobi’s Largest Known Financing Round Of The Year

To link over 17,000 rural Kenyan farmers to urban retailers, Twiga Foods has raised a $23.7 million Series B led by Goldman Sachs and TLcom Capital.

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The Nairobi, Kenya-based marketplace company has raised $67.1 million in known venture funding to date. Along with the equity financing, Twiga raised $6.2 million in debt financing.

So here’s why we care: We rarely dig into the VC space in Africa, let alone Kenya. Secondly, per Crunchbase data, Twiga’s Series B is history making on a couple counts.

What It Does

Founded in 2014, Twiga helps distribute Kenyan produce—onions, mangoes, avocados, and tons of other produce—to retailers. The produce goes to a collection center, then goes to a packhouse for distribution to various vendor shops. The company partners with over 8,000 vendors and claims that farmers receive payment in 24 hours.

Before a vendor can sell, a Twiga sales representative visits the farm to check it out. About 400 people work for the company, per Twiga’s website.

Kenya’s VC Space

According to Crunchbase data, Twiga’s Series B is the biggest financing round raised by a Nairobi-based company in 2019, and the third largest round of all time for the city.

Beyond Goldman Sachs and TLcom, investors in Twiga include 1776, AHL Venture Partners, Omidyar Network, Alphamundi, Blue Haven Initiative, and more. A non-investing partner includes The United States Agency For International Development (USAID).

From here, we see that there’s a healthy show of United States investors interested in Nairobi-based companies. For example, 1776 Ventures is a global micro-seed fund based in Washington D.C., and Omidyar Network, a Redwood City-based startup that has invested in companies like Digg, Meetup, and Anchor.

There’s also some local love, like AHL Venture Partners, which describes itself as an impact-focused firm in Africa. Beyond Twiga, AHL has invested in a number of agriculture startups in Africa, such as Java Foods, a food manufacturer in South Africa, and Honey Care Africa, a startup tackling the sustainably honey market.

And that’s not all. There were also checks from Switzerland and London, showing somewhat of a global interest.

I’ll leave you with this. In a Medium post announcing the investment, TLcom said that “if Africa continues to generate companies of this caliber, more private capital will flow into the Continent and more entrepreneurs will be able to start and scale game-changing enterprises such as Twiga.”

So while Twiga’s round is big for the country and the continent, investor attitude tells me that Twiga’s record might soon be (happily) beat.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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