The investment is in line with Goodwell’s aim to support innovative African companies that are contributing to a more inclusive society.
Goodwell Investments, Holland’s oldest impact fund manager, led a $8.5m (€7.8m) series B round for Zambian social enterprise Good Nature Agro (GNA), partnering with social impact investing cooperative Oikocredit and Global Partnerships/Eleos Social Venture Fund (GP SVF).
GNA plans to use the extra funds to grow its client base from 30,000 farmers to 50,000 farmers by 2027. GNA not only trades with smallholder farmers but gives them training and teaches them the financial management skills necessary to run and grow their own businesses.
Amsterdam-based Goodwell first invested in GNA in 2020, through its €100m uMunthu I fund, which was launched a year earlier to widen access to financial services and other basic goods and services for under-served populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The remarkable growth GNA has experienced since our initial investment has been impressive,” Neo Maruatona Ratau, investment director at Goodwell Investments, said in a joint press release.
“We have observed the company’s ability to deliver robust financial returns and make a significant social impact, all thanks to its farmer-centric business model, which effectively integrates smallholder farmers into the agricultural value chain,” Maruatona Ratau said.
Good Nature Ago’s agritech-based business model “has broken the boundaries of most agribusinesses by engaging the full value chain – connecting growers, aggregators, processors and consumers – and delivering exceptional service through a hybrid tech and ‘boots on the ground’ model,” said GNA chief executive officer Carl Jensen.
Some 30,000 southern African smallholder farmers are currently being supported by GNA in growing drought-resistant, early-maturing legume seed varieties, including beans, cowpeas, soyabeans and groundnuts. GNA has also given farmers access to inputs, input finance, smart and reduced fertiliser use, climate-smart training, as well as a guaranteed market for high-value produce.
Smallholders farmers in Africa face signifiant challenges, including “a lack of access to markets, skills and capital”, Maruatona Ratau told Impact Investor. “GNA is utilising a holistic approach to preserving its own market by ensuring the livelihood and businesses of their client base are sustainable. It’s a perfect win-win situation.”
When asked why Goodwell joined forces with two other investors to provide additional funds for GNA, Maruatona Ratau said the Dutch fund manager “follows on its investments and is a patient capital provider but does not always fully cover the total amount required by the portfolio companies in any given funding round.”
She said Goodwell has “a limit to the cheque size we can write in any given investment. Therefore, in the absence of full capital coverage, we need other investors to join us on every round. We prefer to work with investors that have capabilities different from ours – in terms of networks, resources and expertise – but who also have similar values and a shared vision for the investee company, to help carry the responsibility of ensuring the company thrives and reaches its short and long-term strategic objectives.”
Samuel Kibiri, Oikocredit’s equity officer for Africa, said his organisation was “delighted to be co-investing with like-minded investors in an innovative business with a clear mission to move farmers out of poverty”. The new partnership with GNA “will enable Oikocredit to help more low-income African farmers improve their livelihoods through improved yields and access to markets”.
Since GP SVF first invested in GNA during their seed round in 2018 the group has “witnessed the enterprise’s ability to adapt and scale its offering to enable farmers to increase and diversify their incomes, in the face of both climate change and gender inequality,” said Jim Villanueva, managing director of GP SVF at Global Partnerships.
He said GP SVF was “proud of the results achieved to date and the opportunity to support GNA in this next chapter of growth and impact”.