Success Story

Over 75,000 Rice and Maize Farmers Benefit from Thrive Agric’s Enhanced Access to Finance

Sustainable growth of the agriculture sector in Nigeria has been identified as a key element of the Government of Nigeria’s plans for eradicating poverty and hunger, while developing a more diverse economy. To achieve this, smallholder farmers in the country require steady and reliable access to affordable finance, among other things, so that they can expand their operations and produce food for communities at home and abroad.

Anchor companies such as Thrive Agric, a youth-led agricultural technology startup, are working to bridge this financing gap by providing farmers with data-driven advice and access to finance and premium markets. However, Thrive Agric themselves face challenges accessing the funding they need to grow, such as struggling to meet restrictive bank requirements.

To help Thrive Agric achieve their financing goals, the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), assisted the company to upgrade their digital agricultural operating system software. The upgraded platform allowed them to integrate with banks, seamlessly disburse cash and inputs, and monitor investments and farm activities through to loan repayment. It also allowed Thrive Agric’s over 2,000 field agents to capture critical farm data and provide farmers with technology-enabled extension and advisory services. This software opened access to their financiers, strengthening their loan monitoring capability, and helped meet a critical requirement for Thrive Agric to apply for and receive financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria through Sterling Bank’s Smallholder Farmers Finance loan program. Securing that $6.75m loan enabled Thrive Agric to distribute farm inputs to 25,000 maize out-grower farmers in Kaduna State.

Following this successful collaboration, in March 2021 the Activity’s support enabled Thrive Agric to take their business one step further by applying for, and receiving, an additional $14.5m in loan financing through the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Program Prime Intervention Fund via Sterling Bank. The Anchor Borrower Fund supports anchor companies linking with smallholder farmers in key value chains, such as rice or maize, by providing funds that can be distributed as in-kind or in-cash loans to smallholders to boost production and stabilize their supply of inputs. Securing this loan enabled Thrive Agric to fund inputs to over 50,000 registered maize and rice farmers across Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger states.

“The most exciting part of this journey is seeing farmers who produced one ton per hectare now enabled to harvest up to four tons from the same land.  The increased value and economic prosperity this afforded them and their immediate community is unquantifiable.” said Uka Eje, CEO of Thrive Agric. “Funding of this amount has emboldened us to continue to work closely with the Activity to approach financial institutions like AFEX, who later in the year will release another opportunity to access 5bn Naira ($12,054,900 USD), which we hope to use for the expansion of our business operations in the capital market,” he concluded.

Moving forward, the Activity will continue its efforts to support Thrive Agric as a prime anchor company to meet lender criteria by strengthening their ability to access funding, improving their credit worthiness and financial reporting, and support farmers working to improve maize and rice production across the country. With increased access to finance, anchor companies like Thrive Agric will strengthen and grow their business, improving and expanding smallholder farmers’ access to credit, inputs, expertise, and markets for increased food security, employment, and income generation.