Swedfund boosts Kenyan agriculture with pivotal support for smallholder farmers

African-american man gardener harvesting fresh artichokes on plantation.

Swedfund, Sweden’s development finance institution, has made a $10mn strategic investment in Apollo Agriculture — a significant move aimed at transforming small-scale farming in Kenya. This partnership marks Swedfund’s inaugural application of an EU guarantee within the Global Gateway strategy, enhancing food security and financial access for smallholder farmers. Maria Håkansson, CEO of Swedfund, emphasized the investment’s role in fostering a modernized and productive agricultural sector, contributing to efficient job creation and a growing food sector.

Apollo Agriculture’s CEO, Eli Pollak, expressed gratitude for Swedfund’s support, which is instrumental in realizing their vision to revolutionize small-scale farming. The investment will facilitate Apollo’s expansion and reinforce their commitment to improving the livelihoods of farmers.

A cornerstone of Apollo’s business model is its focus on maize, a staple food and the most prevalent crop among Kenya’s smallholder farmers. The company leverages a robust network of approximately 7,000 sales agents to introduce farmers to an integrated package of agricultural products, including quality seeds and fertilizers, complemented by distribution, advisory services, insurance, and financing.

Recognizing the vulnerability of Kenya’s agriculture to climate change, Apollo places a strong emphasis on climate-smart initiatives. Strategies such as the distribution of drought-resistant seeds, utilization of blended fertilizer, and provision of insurance and agronomic training are crucial in bolstering the resilience of small-scale farming against climate challenges. These measures are pivotal in securing food supply and addressing climate change impacts.

The collaboration is further strengthened by a concurrent loan from ImpactConnect, a Team Europe partner, bringing the total support to USD 10 million to catalyze Apollo’s growth and impact in Kenya. The loan from Swedfund is fortified by a 50% guarantee under the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+), aligning with the EU’s Global Gateway investment strategy focusing on Climate and Energy.

Apollo Agriculture’s approach, underpinned by cutting-edge technology, data science, and a scalable distribution model, offers a comprehensive solution to smallholder farmers, encompassing agricultural inputs, advisory services, insurance, and financing.

The EU’s Global Gateway strategy, dedicated to mobilizing investments in partner countries, aims to generate €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027 through a combination of grants, concessional loans, and guarantees, thereby catalyzing private sector investments in critical sectors.

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