Twiga and Joy Muballe: Taking a leap for Agritech in Kenya
The African Angel Academy has developed a series of case studies to share the stories of African early-stage individual investors. These case studies aim to inspire and guide new angel investors across the continent. This case study was made possible by the generous support of the Southern African Innovation Support (SAIS) Fund.
Taking a leap for Agritech in Kenya recounts the experience of angel investor Joy Muballe as she makes her first investment into the Kenyan Agritech start-up Twiga.
The case study follows Joy from her early days as a techie and entrepreneur, to her work as a portfolio manager of impact investments for the Lundin Foundation, where she first encounters Twiga Foods in 2014. Co-founded by doctoral student Grant Brooke and Coca-Cola executive Peter Njonjo, Twiga is a first mover in the space of last-mile fresh produce delivery for small, informal retailers in Kenyan cities.
Joy immediately senses the potential of their model, which relies on a frictionless digital platform to place orders and manage payment, to transform the local economy. When her team at Lundin Foundation decides to pass on the deal, she is presented the opportunity, and the challenge, to invest herself.
Motivated by her belief in entrepreneurs as the most effective drivers of innovation and economic development, Joy forms a syndicate to make a seed investment in the budding Agritech startup.
“When entrepreneurs succeed, society as a whole wins, whereas they almost single-handedly take on all the risk. So entrepreneurship is vital for this continent; entrepreneurs are the ones uniquely suited to solving the major challenges we have. If I were a billionaire, I would create an impact fund to invest in entrepreneurs.”
Fast forward to October 2019. Twiga’s brand has become synonymous with African tech success. They have grown to sourcing fruit and vegetables from 17,000 farms and delivering directly to over 8,500 vendors across Kenya. They have just raised US$30 million in Series B funding from Goldman Sachs to fund their international expansion plans. Amidst a rising tide of Agritech and digital marketplace apps for farmers, there is a consensus within the ecosystem that Twiga is the market leader who might just master food distribution across sub-Saharan Africa.
The case rewinds to showcase Joy’s professional history and the resourceful investment strategy she adopts to close the deal and be part of Twiga’s growth journey. The case explores her professional development, desire to support entrepreneurs, and understanding of the local market before delving into Twiga’s founding and the unique value proposition that moves Joy to invest. After following Joy’s investment journey through to her exit in 2018, the case leaves readers to contemplate the practical steps a first-time investor can take to mitigate risk, co-invest, and support a startup they believe in.