Good Nature Agro, a Zambian company working from end-to-end within the specialised legume value chains, has announced that it closed Series A equity funding totalling $2.1 million. Goodwell Investments led the round with participation from existing seed investors Global Partnerships and FINCA Ventures.
This investor capital accelerates Good Nature Agro’s ability to build up essential value-add processing infrastructure in Central and Eastern Zambia, to accelerate the growth of their full-farm extension services for smallholders, and connect these farmers to large-scale agribusinesses and food processors seeking hassle-free sourcing, as well as to further their seed breeding program.
A social enterprise, Good Nature Agro (“GNA”) partners with smallholder farmers to improve their productivity through soil-enriching legume farming and links them to high-value legume markets to move farmers firmly into the middle class. Good Nature Agro farmers currently net 3 to 4 times as much as they earn for cash crops, like maize, on the same land. Legumes are valuable to farmers long-term because they increase soil fertility by replacing nitrogen used by other crops, and they are resilient against climate change.
In 2020, GNA will support 15,000 farmers with vital extension services, customised input packages, financial planning and goal setting frameworks, and guaranteed offtake contracts. The company has developed an innovative sales and production model called Source. Using the Source model, GNA first establishes agreements with food processing companies and large-scale agribusinesses that require speciality legume crop based on processing specifications and then contracts outgrower farmer networks to grow these legumes from specialised GNA seeds. This linked contracting approach enables GNA to introduce larger groups of smallholder farmers to formal seed varieties which deliver better yields, more desirable characteristics, and higher prices.
Good Nature Agro was founded in 2014 by Carl Jensen, Sunday Silungwe and Kellan Hays. Carl is a fifth-generation American farmer who met Sunday – a Zambian national – through an agricultural design lab run by MIT and Kellan through an MBA program at the University of California, Davis, in the US. The team founded Good Nature Agro with the goal to lift farmers out of poverty and into the middle class. They have proved that with training and holistic farm services, smallholder farmers can be seed multipliers and commodity growers of the highest-quality and attract premium prices in the market. GNA’s focus on legumes creates long-term positive change for Zambian soils, increases access to more nutritious foods, and builds strategic linkages to regional and global markets for rural smallholders.
“We believe that every farm – regardless of size – deserves a partner who sees enough value in their capacity and their dreams to engage with them as individuals and families. Our focus on personal advice and service delivery to farmers even as we scale is the key to our social impact and our momentum,” says Carl Jensen, Co-founder and CEO of Good Nature Agro. “Sunday, Kellan, and I are incredibly proud of what the GNA team has accomplished since 2014, but the best is yet to come. With this investment, we are entering a new phase of rapid growth driven by global value chains and superior service to our suppliers and customers.”
“Agriculture in Zambia and Southern Africa, much like the rest of the continent, has an enormous social and economic footprint. However, the region’s full agricultural potential remains largely untapped due to supply chain challenges and low processing capacity,” added Mercy Zulu, Investment Associate of Goodwell Investments. “Through its business model and exceptional team, Good Nature Agro is addressing many of these issues by providing access to credit, inputs, critical technical services, and market linkages in a way that benefits smallholder farmers and promotes sector growth. This makes the company a good fit for uMunthu’s inclusive agribusiness strategy. We are excited that our investment will support the next phase of the company’s growth, and we look forward to working with the team on this journey.”
“Good Nature Agro is creating a new model for seeds sales in the African market by cultivating new product demand and disrupting the predominant system of agricultural activities, which are modelled on the maize value chain,” says Melissa Tickle, Investment Associate of FINCA Ventures. “Further, the GNA team has proven they can triple farmer incomes in 24-months, bringing their growers into the middle class and helping them to achieve their financial goals through providing predictable and well-documented cash flows.”
“We made an initial investment in Good Nature Agro in Spring of 2018, and since then they have consistently demonstrated their ability to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers through the provision of inputs, technical assistance, and market access,” closed Jim Villanueva, Managing Director of the Global Partnerships/Eleos Social Venture Fund. “We are pleased to be participating in this Series A funding round, and we look forward to supporting GNA as they continue to strengthen their operation and scale their impact.”
Source: Goodwell Investments