Agrilet is not the only Nigerian – or African – platform allowing non-farmers to invest directly in agriculture, but in the size of its returns and the speed with which these are delivered it feels it has an edge on the competition.
Launched last year, Agrilet allows users to invest in selected farm projects and monitor progress via its online platform. Investments can also be made via SMS and email, while the startup will roll out a USSD service soon.
Agrilet, which connects with farmers via farming associations and local communities, also insures investments made through its platform, and pays returns direct into a user’s bank account.
So far, so Farmcrowdy, or Thrive Agric. Or Complete Farmer, or Bayseddo. Or Seekewa. Or EZ Farming. This is a busy space. But Agrilet believes it stands apart, due to the fact it allows users to invest very small amounts and make good returns very quickly.
Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Victor Yunusa, who said profits made via the platform are shared between Agrilet, the farmer and micro-funders based on a percentage that benefits everyone, said users can invest as little as NGN20,000 (US$55), potentially double their money, and not have to wait too long for profits.
“We understand that people who invest small amounts of money don’t usually have the patience to wait for longer periods and get little returns,” Yunusa told Disrupt Africa.
A successful farmer himself, Yunusa is also a software engineer, and is applying this wide knowledge to make Agrilet a success. While farmers lack access to machinery, seedlings, and inputs to produce in a commercial capacity, individuals in urban areas are looking for ways to diversify their investment opportunities and increase their income.
“Agrilet creates new opportunities by providing a platform for micro-funders to invest in farms and food processing related projects executed by farmers and managed by Agrilet,” Yunusa said.
The startup, bootstrapped thus far, has already helped 50 investors make NGN5 million (US$13,800) in profit, and is considering taking on investment to scale its impact.
“We are focused on serving our customers better and making them happy because without them there is no business. Also, we have been making partnerships with farmers and farmer associations,” said Yunusa.
Agrilet has farm projects in three Nigerian states – Nasarawa, Plateau, and Kaduna – and wants to operate more widely.
“Our expansion plan is to increase our farm project offerings from what we currently have, which includes soya beans, maize, and poultry projects. We have concluded plans and will open projects in strawberry, ginger, and tomatoes,” Yunusa said.