Naspers Foundry, a South African-focused start-up funding initiative for technology with a focus on social impact, announced on May 17 that it had invested R40 million ($2.5 million U.S.) in Nile.

This is Naspers’ tenth investment, and the funding account for almost half of the R83 million ($5.3 million U.S.) that the round raised. Other contributors include Platform Investment Partners, Raba Capital and Base Capital.

In a similar move, global technology investor, Prosus, the sole recipient of Naspers’s internet investments, invested in DeHaat, a tech-based service that offers end-to-end agricultural services to farmers in India, last October.

Nile was established in 2020 by Louis de Kock, Eugene Roodt and Rick Kleinhans, who brought their experience in farming, finance and IT, respectively. Its b-to-b e-commerce business enables direct trade of fresh produce in SADC between producers and sellers, including price detection, quality confirmation, payments and traceability.

Agricultural economist and senior lecturer at the North-West University, Dr Ernst Idsardi, said of the significance of Nile, “Nile is a unique system in the South African Agri environment. There are 15 municipal fresh produce markets that are still widely used in South Africa; however, their use has significantly declined due to weak and further deteriorating infrastructural issues. Health and hygiene are also concerning factors influencing the traction of these markets. There is a definite shift towards direct buying and purchasing via online platforms. From an efficiency perspective, the e-commerce concept is great while simultaneously keeping the prices down, making the market leaner and more flexible.”

Despite these government markets still being the price setting mechanisms for fresh fruit and vegetables in the country, in the long term, large investments in tech and e-commerce should continue to see great growth and development.

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