For agrifoodtech VC Astanor Ventures, improving farmers’ access to finance fits squarely within its investment thesis. The Belgian impact fund recently joined French ag fintech startup MiiMOSA’s $9 million funding round alongside fellow impact-centric investors including Alter Equity, Foundation Daniel et Nina Carasso, and Quadia Capital.
“The financing needs of the agriculture sector have more than doubled over the past 10 years. Not only has demand soared, but traditional financing solutions do not meet the specific needs of the agrifood industry, which have drastically changed in recent years,” says Eric Archambeau, co-founder and partner at Astanor.
Borrowers are looking for funders who can provide them with tailor-made, flexible solutions adapted to these new financing needs, which are being driven by “social, environmental and economic changes like new farming practices, changing demographics, [and] carbon storage,” he tells AFN.
Founded in 2015, Paris-based MiiMOSA is an online crowdfunding platform for the food and agriculture industries. It has two financial products: a gift-matching model where anyone can support a project in exchange for goods, services, or experiences that the project leader offers; and an interest-bearing loan that allows the public to invest in a project and receive returns of between 3% and 6% for their trouble.
Through its novel financing options, MiiMOSA hopes to take into account some of the more nuanced aspects of lending for food and farming enterprises that conventional financial institutions may not be able to accommodate. To date, the platform has supported over 4,000 projects with nearly €50 million ($60.9 million) in financing.
“MiiMOSA combines a sound understanding of the agricultural sector with a remarkably well thought-out offer, meeting the demands of a new generation of individual and professional investors seeking investments that have meaning and impact,” Archambeau says.
Fintech is a growing segment within agriculture, with multiple startups trying to create new route to capital for farmers. Examples from the US include sustainable ag investment platform Steward and ‘credit score for ag’ startup Agrograph. In India, Jai Kisan recently raised $30 million from Syngenta and others, while Brazil’s Agrolend scored $1.6 million from investors including Continental Grain Company.
Archambeau argues that MiiMOSA is “a unique actor” in this growing sector, “outperforming competitors in both the financing and crowdlending sectors with solutions tailored [to] the agrifood and energy industries.”
“The company further stands out due to its strong commitment to impact, solely accepting and funding projects that accelerate the global transition towards a more sustainable economy,” he adds.
Astanor has also backed financing-oriented ProducePay, which is an online ag marketplace for fresh produce growers and buyers.
Other startups in the firm’s portfolio include insect farmer Ÿnsect — which claims to have reached carbon-negative status for its mealworm production facility outside of Paris, — food waste fighter Apeel Sciences, crop protection player Aphea.Bio, and vertical farming startup Infarm.