According to the World Bank, Nigeria is the largest consumer of palm oil in Africa with a population of over 190 people.
In 2018, approximately three million metric tonnes of fats and oils were consumed in the country and palm oil accounted for 44.7% (1,340,000 metric tonnes), increasing to over 1,600,000 metric tonnes in 2021 so far.
Tapping into this luxury is Releaf, a Nigerian agritech startup leveraging technology to contribute immensely to food production in Africa.
Driving the company’s goal, Releaf has raised $2,700,000 seed funding led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers. Other investors who participated in the round include Stephen Pagliuca, Chairman of Bain Capital and Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch.
In Addition to the seed round, the startup also secured $1,500,000 in grants from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID, summing the total funds raised to $4,200,000.
Releaf uses pre-processing technology to increase the quality of inputs supplied to African food factories running at less than 30% capacity due to procurement challenges.
The company has been active for four years with backing from recognised companies including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, YCombinator, Future Africa, Chairman of Bain Capital, President of African Development Bank, among others.
Providing sustainable solutions to connect smallholder farmers and food manufacturing companies, the company developed a machine called Kraken, to process palm nuts into purified palm kernel oil, making the distribution process seamless.
Releaf leverages a technology that aids its connection to over 2,000 smallholder farmers, hence, giving the company a wide supply range. USSD can also be used by the startup to receive orders from farmers.
Working capital financing and proprietary data on supply availability can be provided via the company’s innovation.
The company seeks to utilise the seed funding to build an industrial food processing machine for smallholder farmers in the oil palm sector. The grant will be used to provide working capital among other valuable services for these smallholders and small-scale processors.
Training, recruitment and empowerment of women and youth in the oil palm sector is the target of the company, ensuring job provisions across Nigeria and Africa at large.
So far, the company has raised a total funding amount of $5,700,000 secured from several investors including Justin Kan, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Stephen Pagliuca, United States Agency for International Development, Samurai Incubate Africa, Rena Yoneyama, Future Africa, Consonance Investment Managers, Challenge Fund for Youth Employment, Yale Africa, Eudaimonia Capital.