Category: Agri-tech

Agros nets $2.7M to scale sustainable farming solutions

SINGAPORE, March 14, 2023 – Agros, a Singapore-headquartered Agri-tech startup, has raised US$2.7 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Gaia Impact Fund and Schneider Electric Energy Access Asia. Seed round investor Wavemaker Impact continued to support Agros and invested again. The round also saw participation from Silverstrand Capital, Circle Capital, and PropertyGuru Founder and impact investor, Steve Melhuish.

Founded in November 2019, Agros is the pioneer in sustainable agriculture for small and medium-sized horticulture farmers across Asia. The company is helping horticulture farmers to decarbonize, whilst doubling their profit through a full-stack solution.

Its first two products – Agrosolar and Agrosoil – are solving major agriculture problems like fuel dependency and soil degradation. After switching to Agros’ ecosystem, farmers can double their profits from reduced input costs, improved yields, and higher prices from better-quality crops.

Agros has been enjoying the tailwind from rising fuel and fertilizer prices, which has encouraged farmers to switch to more sustainable and efficient practices. This has resulted in 4x year-on-year revenue growth in 2022. The company currently works with 1,500 farmers across 2 Asian countries and has increased farmers’ profits by more than $1,500,000 and abated up to 5,000 tons of Co2e.

“We’re glad to have found investors who share our belief that a prosperous, inclusive, and low-carbon world is possible. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and as the pioneer, we are well positioned to become the regional market leader,” said Max Nelen, Founder and CEO of Agros.

“We’re very honored and excited to support Agros’ journey. We’ve been impressed by Max and his team, dedicated and passionate, in providing decarbonized solutions for farmers. Agros is a market shaper and has a huge potential to grow across the region, we strongly believe they’re in the best position to support millions of farmers to increase their income while making their farm climate resilient,” said Hélène Demaegdt, President of Gaia Impact Fund.

Gilles Vermot Desroches, President of Schneider Electric Energy Access Asia adds: “We share with Max and the Agros team the same deep conviction that sustainable agriculture plays a crucial factor in tackling climate change and contributing to a fairer and more inclusive society. 

Agros’ work in providing farmers with solar-powered irrigation systems and raising awareness on sustainable agri-practices not only leads to higher income for farmers, but also makes communities more resilient to variable climate conditions and helps reduce CO2 emissions. We are very proud to be able to to support Agros in creating this systemic change.

Agros will use the funds to scale in its existing markets, open a third country, strengthen its leadership team and develop an App streamlining the value chain. This will allow Agros to transform the lives of thousands of farmers, while abating millions of tons of carbon emissions.

“We are very impressed with the results that Max and his team are achieving.  We believe that entrepreneurs can start high-growth, high-margin businesses that also greatly reduce climate emissions. Max and his team have proven this with their efforts,” said Doug Parker, founding partner of Wavemaker Impact.

For more information, please contact:

Max Nelen, Founder & CEO

max.nelen@agrosglobal.com

About Agros

Agros is the pioneer in sustainable farming solutions for 18 million horticulture farmers across Asia. Its full-stack solution allows farmers to double their profit and become climate-resilient for generations to come.

About Gaia Impact Fund

Gaia Impact Fund is a venture capital firm specializing in renewable energy. It invests and builds long-term partnerships with start-ups and SMEs operating in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia with a strong environmental and social focus. Since 2017, it has invested in 12 innovative companies and is actively pursuing its investment strategy in the renewable energy value chain: small decentralized solar systems, productive uses of energy, mini grids, C&I, enabling tech.

About Schneider Electric Energy Access Asia

Schneider Electric Energy Access Asia (SEEAA) is a +20M€ impact fund, launched by Schneider Electric, together with Norfund, EDFI MC and Amundi Asset Management, to positively contribute to SGD 7, with two main objectives: (i) bridging the energy access gap in South and Southeast Asia, where rural communities often lack access to reliable energy sources, and (ii) fostering the adoption of renewables in the energy mix and Net Zero.

About Wavemaker Impact

Wavemaker Impact is a climatetech venture builder that co-founds sustainability-focused businesses in Southeast Asia with proven entrepreneurs. It aims to rally individuals, investors, and businesses who care about the planet, and want to make a rapid, tangible change in the reduction of carbon emissions. For more information, visit: https://wavemakerimpact.com/.

Pioneer Facility invests in Agros to expand solar irrigation access for smallholder farmers​

Pioneer Facility invests in Agros to expand solar irrigation access for smallholder farmers

Phnom Penh, November 14, 2022 – The Pioneer Facility, an impact investment fund managed by Nexus for Development, signs an agreement with Agros, a social enterprise specialized in providing solar-powered irrigation systems. Agros bundles technologies, inputs, advisory, and financing to support farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices that increase their profits and reduce carbon emissions. The Pioneer Facility loan of USD 500,000 will finance inventory and working capital needs to accelerate the deployment of their activity in Cambodia and Myanmar.

From conventional to regenerative farming

Agros Pte Ltd (‘Agros’) was launched at the intersection of sustainable agriculture and climate change. About 500 million smallholder farmers produce 80% of the world’s food yet they don’t have access to affordable energy and productive appliances. Across Southeast Asia, millions of smallholder farmers face three main problems: low yields, low income and financial exclusion. Smallholder farmers in particular are subject to the inevitable risks of market volatility as fuel and fertilizer prices continue to increase in the region, which has significant implications on their livelihoods. Fuel prices have more than doubled/tripled in certain parts of Myanmar and Cambodia since earlier this year. Many farmers in Southeast Asia have not adopted a solar irrigation system due to market awareness and affordability challenges.

Under current market volatility, Agros strives to solve three main barriers to adopting a solar irrigation system: affordability, performance and distribution. They design, distribute, and provide financing for solar water pumps in Myanmar and Cambodia, with a mission to double the income of hundreds of thousands of farmers while abating millions of tons of carbon emissions by 2030. The company is also building a platform combining multiple farming technologies, services, and financing to support farmers to transition from conventional to regenerative farming.

Climate change is a major threat to our environment, society, and economy. We’re glad to have found with Nexus a partner who shares our belief that a prosperous, inclusive, and low-carbon world is possible. The Pioneer Facility will contribute strongly to our 3x growth projected for 2023 by financing our working capital needs.

Max Nelen, Agros’ Founder & CEO

In early 2022, Agros entered the Cambodia market and currently has 3 operating hubs in Cambodia and 7 in Myanmar. They are poised for further hub expansion in both countries and are scoping a third market for 2023.

Farming decarbonisation

Agros is seeking to decarbonise the farmers’ whole journey, from input to market. This implies launching soil and crop management solutions such as biological fertilizer, high-quality seeds, solar milling machinery, solar cold rooms, zero-carbon certification and access to a premium marketplace. The environmental impacts could evolve to be much more as the product offerings grow. The next product Agros is launching, Agrosoil, seeks to restore degraded soil, increase yields and reduce expenses on synthetic fertilizers.

By replacing fuel-based energy consumption with a renewable energy source, the solar irrigation systems already being installed reduce carbon emissions. Based on surveys of current fuel usage for each customer, it is estimated that each solar pump will reduce on average 4 tons of CO2 emissions per year, meaning 80,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions reduction by 2026 based on 20,000 units installed. Nexus for Development is engaged to develop a carbon finance project and early calculations support the emission reduction estimation.

Improving livelihoods

Agros’ social objective is to revolutionise agriculture across Southeast Asia, offering millions of farmers the technologies, services, financing and accessibility they need to transition to long-term profitable farming. The goal is to boost income from fuel savings and extra crop cycles (additional irrigated land).

So far, more than 900 households in Myanmar and more than 100 households in Cambodia have benefited from Agros’ solar irrigation technology, with total beneficiaries reaching over 3,550. Agros’ current beneficiaries spend up to 30% of their income on fuel to enable irrigation of their crops; importantly, installation of Agros’ solar irrigation system results in monthly fuel savings of up to $45 per pump on average, with a payback period between 12-24 months.

Further, Agros has gradually improved its gender strategies to engage with women beneficiaries and plans to do more in the coming years. The company created about 20 jobs for women in one year, including sales agents to engage with women farmers.

Nexus has been working with Agros since 2021 and provided a small working capital loan in January 2021 to fuel their early expansion in Myanmar. Today, the Pioneer Facility loan supports Agros at a critical time in its growth trajectory by funding their inventory purchases to meet increasing sales.

Agros has done tremendously over the past few years in Myanmar, despite the political and economic turmoil. We are delighted to continue supporting Agros’ new market entries, bringing sustainable solutions to farmers who are facing immense challenges.

Selina Yang, Nexus’ Investment Analyst

About Pioneer Facility

Pioneer Facility is an innovative fund that provides scale-up capital, via working capital or capex loans, to enterprises that offer sustainable energy and clean water solutions to underserved populations in Southeast Asia.

For more information please contact: pioneerfacility@nexusfordevelopment.org

About Nexus for Development

Nexus for Development is an international not-for-profit organization founded on the principles of sustainable development. We drive access to finance in developing economies across Southeast Asia to increase sustainable energy and water resource development, advance low-carbon solutions, and scale local implementers.

For more information please contact: contact@nexusfordevelopment.org

Social Innovation Podcast

Max Nelen – Founder & CEO at Agros

“Close Your Eyes. Make the Jump and See Where You Land.”

The Social Innovation Podcast spoke to Max Nelen, the CEO and Founder of Agros about all things farming and agriculture.

Listen here: Creating Impact and Profit Through Social Innovation – Conversations with the global leaders in Impact Investing and Social Innovation