‘Releaf’, a Nigerian supply chain company that supplies foodstuffs to African factories, has raised $3.3M from Samurai Incubate Africa through an oversubscribed Pre-Series A round.
Other participating investors include Consonance Investment Managers Stephen Pagliuca (Chairman of Bain Capital) and Jeff Ubben (Board member at World Wildlife Fund and Founder of Inclusive Capital Partners).
How will the funding be used?
In order to support the launch of two new technologies, the company will use the funds, namely, Kraken II – a portable version of its palm nut de-sheller. And SITE – a geospatial mapping application that informs the most profitable positioning of food processing assets.
Uzoma Ayogu, CTO and co-founder of Releaf, says, “SITE and Kraken II are the next steps in our plan to transform the efficiency of agricultural supply chains in Africa fundamentally, and we are excited to have partnered with an exceptional cohort of investors and collaborators to roll out these technologies. To make food supply chains profitable, we must maximise extraction yields with leading processing technology and minimise logistics costs by bringing processing capacity closer to farmers. Before Releaf, stakeholders had to choose between one or the other – large factories had great technology but were far away, leaving most farmers with rudimentary technology to process their crops. We’re now able to maximise both.”
Building climate-adaptive supply chains
Releaf, founded in 2021 by Ikenna Nzewi and Uzoma Ayogu, provides FMCG manufacturers in Africa with high-quality ingredients. To improve profitability and prevent post-harvest loss, Kraken and SITE enable decentralised purchases and processing of raw crops.
With its proprietary Kraken deshelling machine, Releaf eliminates the need for smallholder farmers to use hand-held rocks to crack nuts, which is currently done by hand.
According to Releaf, Kraken provides more extraction efficiency, with 27-30% more extraction yield of higher quality oil. With Kraken, Releaf produces premium oil palm products with 95% purity, higher than the 88% industry standard.
As efficient as its static predecessor, Kraken II is a second-generation palm nut desheller.
The cost is half and profitability is three times higher since it can be transported to high-density farming areas, eliminating more than 80 percent of margin-eroding logistics costs.
SITE was developed in collaboration with Stanford University’s Professor David Lobell. By using geospatial mapping tools and proprietary data on soil type, rainfall, and farmer productivity, it determines how much oil palm is planted in a given area.
Professor David Lobell from Stanford University says, “I enjoyed working with Releaf and using our tree height algorithm to establish the correlation between oil palm age and height to help farmers better understand their future yields and make better data-driven decisions on sustainable replanting. There is a great opportunity to unlock Africa’s unique agricultural potential by leveraging remote sensing solutions, and I believe this partnership will be a catalyst.”
Furthermore, it draws from data from organisations such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Niger Delta Foundation (PIND), and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to calculate a dynamic picture of farming activity.
The company will use the data set to train Reinforcement Learning Models in SITE that identify the most optimal positioning of supply chain infrastructure for consumer goods manufacturers.
Processed more than 10M kg palm nuts
A Nigerian company has grown its monthly revenue 7X since it launched in 2021 by leveraging its supply chain technology. It has also secured over $100 million from leading consumer goods manufacturers, such as Presco and PZ Cussons.
Rena Yoneyama, the Managing Partner at Samurai Incubate Africa, says, “Releaf’s success with its pilot Kraken validates its thesis, and we are excited to continue supporting their ambitious vision to create efficient supply chains within Africa’s agricultural market. They have added key members to their management team and continue to impress us with their rapid commercial growth and technological development. We look forward to more of the same success as the team rolls out Kraken II and SITE.”