Agritech start-up Nile gets R40m Naspers boost

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 17 May 2022
Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO of Naspers.
Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO of Naspers.

Naspers, through its early-stage tech investment vehicle Naspers Foundry, announced a R40 million ($2.5 million) investment in Nile, an agritech company that connects farmers to buyers of fresh produce.

In a statement, Naspers says the investment is part of an R83 million equity round led by Naspers Foundry, alongside new investors Platform Investment Partners, Raba Capital and Base Capital.

The transaction marks Naspers Foundry’s 10th investment since its launch in 2019 and forms part of Naspers’s R1.4 billion commitment to grow South Africa’s tech ecosystem.

Nile was founded in 2020 to provide farmers with digital solutions that can address various pain points inherent to food trading – including price transparency, quality verification, speed of payments, the traceability of produce and food waste, says Naspers.

It notes that Nile’s end-to-end process connects farmers to commercial retailers of fresh produce both in South Africa and across the continent.

The B2B platform facilitates transactions and safeguards payments on behalf of farmers, resulting in increased transparency and improved cash flow.

Nile leverages data and a complex logistical network allowing farmers to reach better-yielding markets, not just those geographically closest to them.

Fresh produce buyers, such as retailers, wholesalers and processors, can access live availability and landed costs for a wide range of produce, and are able to transact through a variety of B2B payment methods.

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO of Naspers, says: “The importance of food security cannot be overstated, and a platform like Nile provides a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it.”

She adds that according to the World Bank, Africa’s food system has huge potential to create more and better jobs.

“More inclusive value chains that link farmers and other stakeholders can help realise this potential. Our investment in Nile is a great example of how technology can support communities and improve economic opportunity.”

Says Fabian Whate, head of Naspers Foundry: “Nile provides a fully integrated ecosystem that creates trust between buyers and sellers on the platform and is a great example of tech entrepreneurs building innovative solutions that address people’s everyday needs. We are excited about the growth potential of this business and its contribution to transforming the trade of fresh produce.”

Louis de Kock, co-founder and CEO of Nile, says: “We are delighted to have Naspers Foundry support our mission to make fresh produce more accessible to people across the African continent.

“While we were able to bootstrap Nile through our initial growth phase, we look forward to having the backing of an internationally respected investor and experienced operator like Naspers as we scale our cross-border operations to the rest of Africa.”

According to Naspers, since Nile’s inception, approximately 30 million kilogrammes of fruits and vegetables have been traded on the Nile platform, with buyers originating from five countries and 35 towns and cities across Southern Africa.

It points out that Nile’s services are used by farmers of all sizes, from small-scale farmers to large commercial farmers, with buyers ranging from large South African-listed companies, to small family-owned retailers and wholesalers.

Nile also operates in Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique.