How One Startup is Deploying Agtech in Developing Markets

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Samir Ibrahim is CEO and cofounder of SunCulture, a solar-powered irrigation technology company operating in Kenya. The startup sells drip irrigation kits that use solar energy to pump water from any source.

Samir Ibrahim

I’ve been talking to Samir since SunCulture won a grant from USAID’s Powering Agriculture challenge last December, and our conversations have often centered around the challenges that startups face in getting their technologies adopted in the developing markets of Africa.

Smallholder farmers have limited cash flow to be able to purchase new agtech, so SunCulture, and other agtech startups operating in the region, have had to get creative in how they sell their wares. Namely, some startups are seeing the need to provide farmers with some sort of financing to enable them to buy their tech. They are filling a gap left by local African banks, which typically lend just a few percent of their total loans to agriculture, despite it employing the majority of the African workforce.

In this week’s podcast, I speak to Samir about the evolution of SunCulture from a pure technology play to one offering farmers asset financing to help them purchase new technologies that would otherwise be out of reach. Samir also talks about the diverse and innovative advertising strategies the startup has employed to get in front of as many farmers as possible. He also speaks about the different investors he’s approached and gained investment from and gives funding advice to other agtech startups that are building technologies for Africa’s agriculture sectors.

Is providing asset finance and a sort of one-stop-shop for farmers a pivot for SunCulture? Samir says definitely not. Improving the lives of smallholder farmers was always his mission.

Find out more about SunCulture’s journey and its approach to gaining investment by listening to our podcast below. As ever, feedback is welcome and hope you enjoy it!

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Image credit: A Kenyan farmer using SunCulture’s drip irrigator.

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