Creadev leads $50m round for Goldman-backed Twiga Foods

Managing director Pierre Fauvet says the e-commerce platform is looking to partner with local producers interested in building and supporting larger-scale farms across Africa.

French family office Creadev has led a $50 million Series C for Twiga Foods to support the food e-commerce platform’s expansion from Kenya into other African markets.

Twiga’s software connects ag producers and retailers, to provide fair and transparent markets. The company was established in 2014 and has separate divisions focused on provision of market data and working capital loans.

Twiga’s B2B e-commerce platform facilitates delivery of more than 600 metric tons of products grown by a network of 8,000 farmers, which is supplied to 10,000 informal retailer customers across Kenya every day. The company collects produce directly from farmers, who are paid within 24 hours through the M-Pesa mobile money platform.

“Twiga is definitely an ag story, but not only [an ag story],” Creadev managing director for Africa Pierre Fauvet told Agri Investor. “It’s a one-stop shop solution for informal retailers in key African cities. It’s very much a Kenyan story today and it’s going to be more than a Kenyan story tomorrow.”

Creadev was launched in 2002 and makes investments of between $1 million and $50 million into early to growth equity stage sustainable development-focused businesses. Food is among four sectors of focus for the Paris-headquartered firm, which manages a portfolio including investments in Brooklyn, New York-headquartered Gotham Greens; Chinese ag software company Kebai and plant-based meat provider Nxtfood, among others.

Creadev was joined in the early November round by Juven, a Goldman Sachs spin-out focused on growth investments in Africa. Goldman Sachs was lead investor in a $23.7 million Series B round for Twiga in 2019.

Alongside the recent equity fundraise, an unnamed early Twiga investor also completed a secondary sale of $30 million, according to its statement.

Other investors in Twiga’s Series C included DOB Equity, IFC Ventures and OP Finnfund Global, among others. In early November, the IFC also extended a $29.4 million loan to Twiga to support more than 300 medium-scale contract farmers of fruits and vegetables in its network.

Nairobi-based Fauvet explained that Twiga began with a focus on eliminating middlemen between smallholder producers and the 60 percent to 90 percent of African retail conducted through informal channels. The company has since evolved, he said, to contain a platform supplying manufacturers of consumer goods with flours and oils, and plans for its own branded offerings.

Capital from Series C will be devoted to regional expansion that Twiga chief executive Peter Njonjo said in the statement would focus first on Kenya and the neighboring countries of Uganda and Tanzania, before expanding to include the Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Nigeria.

Fauvet said Twiga’s plans include partnering with ag producers interested in expansion that would involve acquisition of farmland and related infrastructure in key English and French-speaking markets. He said Twiga has established a pilot expansion project in Kenya and is working with development finance partners to scale the concept.

“The smallholder farmers are still part of the game, but it’s not enough to sustain at the local level the needs of all the informal market,” he explained. “There is an intent to build and support larger-scale farms across the continent.”

Earlier this month, Twiga announced a supply agreement with a Kenyan banana producer designed to support government efforts to increase exports of the fruit.