Kenyan startup FarmDrive, the developer of a credit-scoring app for mobile phones that connects smallholder farmers to financing, has raised funding of an undisclosed sum from the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund.
FarmDrive tracks revenue and expenses and generates credit scores that farmers can provide to lenders. Data is fed into a credit-scoring algorithm, alongside “key satellite, agronomic, economic data,” both to help improve yields and generate the credit score, giving banks a basis to make their loan decisions, according to a statement from Safaricom.
“In an era when market uncertainty is creating new challenges for the agricultural sector, mobile-based technology solutions like FarmDrive can empower farmers with the critical access to finance and to help expand their access to other essential services,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.
FarmDrive becomes the fifth investment by the $1 million Safaricom Spark Venture Fund since its establishment in 2015, meaning that the investment was some fraction of that. But 3,000 farmers have registered with FarmDrive, founded in 2014 by Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire, accessing more than $130,000 in loans, according to the statement.
The business was inspired by the co-founders’ experience growing up in smallholder farming communities. “We are excited about this investment because it enables us to scale this innovation, score more farmers, unlock more capital, and grow the agricultural loan portfolios of our financial institution partners,” Kimani said. “This is all good for the inclusive development of our country.”