Co-founder & CEO Bram van den Bosch (MSc Finance & Investments, 2006)
Co-founder & Chief Data Science Officer Dario Raffaele (MsBA, Finance & Investments, 2009)
Co-founder & CPO Lillian Nassanga Musoke
Co-founder & CTO Davis Agaba
CFO Emre Özmen (MSc Finance & Investments, 2012)
CCO Maren Hald Bjørgum
Emata, a fintech company offering affordable, digital loans to farmers in Uganda, enabling them to turn their farms into successful businesses.
Farmers are Africa’s economic backbone, contributing roughly 30 per cent of GDP across the continent. But their access to finance is limited, with farming receiving just three to five per cent of loans issued. A very small amount of capital – Emata loans start at $25 – could make a huge difference, enabling these micro businesses to buy, for example, fertilisers or decent seed. This means they can grow a larger crop, make more profit, and invest to grow their farms further.
The big idea
Farmers typically can’t get loans because they can’t satisfy requirements from banks such as collateral, salary statements, or guarantors on the loan. This makes it very difficult for African banks to service them profitably. Emata aims to solve that problem. We partner with local organisations to bring those vital digital loans to farmers.
How it works
We reach farmers through partnerships – cooperatives, processors of agricultural commodities, exporters, or any sort of farmer-based organisation. If a farmer wants a loan, they must be affiliated with one of our partners. They are then onboarded by the partner onto our fully digital system. This system records their historical activity – how much they are producing and earning – and that data, along with weather data and other data points, allows us to generate tailored lending limits for each farmer. We designed our lending cycle around the season, meaning the farmer receives their money when they need it. To repay, the farmer just needs to keep delivering their produce to the partner. The partner deducts our repayment when the farmer sells their harvest. Farmers that get an Emata loan typically see an increase in productivity of between 30-100 per cent, which means that they also get bigger loans as they increase their harvest.
We just announced our $2.4 million seed round backed by Norrsken, Zephyr Acorn, African Renaissance Partners, Draper Richards Kaplan (DRK) Foundation and angel investor Marcus Boström. However, for the first two years, we bootstrapped and secured donor funding just to pay the bills and hire a team. It was tough. Funding is hard to find, and roughly 75 per cent of all Africa VC funding is absorbed by Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. Thankfully, there is increasing interest from the investment community in Africa and we are grateful to have found investors who love what we do.
Our moonshot is to finance 100 million farmers in the next five years. There are more than 240 million smallholder farmers in Africa, so that feels do-able. We want to expand into new markets – Tanzania will be next. And we’re sitting on a tonne of data, which we will use to help these farmers further. As we like to say, we don’t invest in farmers, we invest in entrepreneurs and dare them to dream big.