VENTURES AFRICA - Non-profit global venture fund Acumen has invested in Mekelle Farms, Ethiopia’s largest producer of day-old chicks as a way of increasing its social impact in East Africa.
Acumen’s investment in the East African farm through majority owner AGFlow Ventures will help Mekelle increase its 1 million day-old chicks per year production to 2 million in the next 3 years.
“Social impact is central to Acumen’s work; Mekelle Farms’ model presents a clear opportunity to improve the livelihoods of small holder farmers while addressing the challenge of malnutrition in children by providing a ready source of protein,” said Duncan Onyango, East Africa Director Acumen.
Headquartered in New York, with regional operations in India, Pakistan, Kenya and Ghana, Acumen seeks to end poverty using entrepreneurial approaches, the organisation’s decision to invest in Mekelle Farms borders around its production of productive and disease-resistant chicks for smallholder farmers across Ethiopia.
The East African country, which is also Africa’s second-largest country by population, has shown great potentials over the past 5 years, with a record of 7 percent GDP growth.
Despite the potentials shown by Ethiopia, approximately 40 percent of its population lives below the poverty line and 47 percent of children experience stunting and wasting as a result of extreme malnourishment, a statement by Acumen indicates.
Mekelle Farms’ work has not gone unnoticed, as other investors have put their money into the company, which started in 2010. Nairobi-based organisation, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, US-based venture development company, Flow Equity and Zemen Bank, a leading commercial bank in Ethiopia all have interests in Mekelle Farms.
“At Mekelle Farms we have created an efficient, scalable, and economically viable distribution chain to bring improved breeds and feed to the rural household at the grassroots level. Acumen’s patient capital model is an excellent addition to our capital base as we scale our business and impact the lives of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia,” said Joseph Shields, Mekelle Farms General Manager.
Acumen’s investment in Mekelle Farms, its first in East Africa is in furtherance of his crusade to end poverty in Africa. The fund has invested more than $30 million across East Africa since 2007, with focus on agriculture, housing, health, water and energy.
It is expected that Acumen’s newest investment will enhance Mekelle Farms production and improve incomes for smallholder farmers and rural women, as well as tackle the problem of malnourishment in Ethiopia.