By Chinyere Anyanwu
Agricorp International, Nigerian based spices producing, processing and exporting company has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding to increase its processing capacity up to 7000 metric tonnes per annum. This fund was raised from Vami Nigeria, One Capital LLC and AFEX. Nigerian-based Vami led the funding round with $11.5 million in equity, while the other investors provided working capital financing for the company. Ernst & Young (Nigeria) served as transaction advisers while Elisio Law Office and Pavestone Legal served as legal advisers.
Founded in 2018 by Kenneth Obiajulu and Wale Omotimirin, Agricorp is contributing to meeting the growing demand of spices as an export material. Data from Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture shows that despite being the third highest exporter of ginger globally, Nigeria’s ginger production is put at 31 million MT while demand is put at 65 million MT, leaving a gap of 34 million MT. While Nigeria accounts for more than 16 per cent of the global production of ginger, it gets less than 4 per cent of the export market share.
Agricorp’s CEO, Kenneth Obiajulu, said, “we believe that by increasing our capacity to 7,000MT, we will maximise the potential to boost Nigeria’s forex earnings through export, contribute our quota to improving the Nigerian GDP from agriculture, and serve as a worthy model to African youths who aspire to be agribusiness owners. We want to show them it is possible and very rewarding as well.”
According to lead investors, Vami Nigeria, “we led the round because we saw a clear growth path, strong social impact, excellent financial trajectory, and global collaborations with key partners. Most importantly, the depth of knowledge, passion and resilience of the team is unrivalled.”
Managing Director at AFEX, Samirah Ade-Adebiyi, said “our other businesses have transacted with Agricorp on several occasions and have seen the business grow over time. Now, we are committed to providing the working capital they require to scale their operations at any level.”
Since its launch in Nigeria in November 2018, Agricorp has supported over 5,000 smallholder farmers with inputs and training on good agronomic practices. It has built a 0.5MT/hour spice processing plant in Kaduna, Nigeria, that produces value-added products for the export market. It has also used its proprietary technology, Farmbase, to register, aggregate and pay farmers for produce sold.
In a market where farmers are largely undocumented and unbanked, Agricorp collates data that can help provide detailed analysis for stakeholders (i.e. government, agribusiness, private companies and donor organisations, among others) to make informed agricultural decisions. It also helps with traceability of all farmer activities from the need for farm input to disbursement to sales of produce and eventually, payment. Financial institutions can also use this information to provide loans, credit facilities and insurance to interested parties.
Obiajulu noted that it will take a bold approach to put Nigeria on the global export radar by leveraging investments to build simple processing systems for spices and other agro products, adding that Agricorp aims to be that bold company standing at the forefront of enhancing global food systems.
Obiajulu stated that core to the success of the business is Agricorp’s relationship with its host communities.