About the event

The latest trends and disruptions affecting the agricultural supply chains, like changes in nutrition preferences towards higher value, perishable agricultural and livestock products, and increasing urbanization, have led to the emergence of innovative micro and small ag-techs proposing new business models. These start-ups can take the form of small shops distributing inputs, to new businesses across the logistics, farm mechanization, processing and distribution spectrum. Like any other small enterprise operating in the agriculture sector, these new start-ups struggle to access the financial and operational support they need to meet their growth ambitions. This webinar will explore which innovations these ag-tech can draw on within these same areas of support.

The first area of focus will be on ag-tech solutions are a beacon of innovation that promises to rejuvenate agriculture. New technologies, including digital technologies, have become a key factor to increase productivity and drive sustainability in agricultural supply chains from farm to fork. Simultaneously, the advent of digital technologies, services and tools heralds a new era for innovative ‘agripreneurs’ that capitalize on new technologies to deliver higher value processing.

However, the journey does not end with the provision of tools and technologies. The true measure of success lies in nurturing agribusiness start-ups, the sprouting seeds of the industry, through a spectrum of services, from tailored financing to non-financial support, addressing key challenges, and learning from the experiences of those who have walked the path before.

This event delves into the innovative world of ag-tech solutions targeting commercial agricultural enterprises in the micro and small segments. Two broad categories of providers will be explored:

  • Business to Consumer (B2C) models through which ag-techs create an ecosystem of services for farmers and agribusinesses through comprehensive platforms. Services and products range from input distribution and finance, agronomic advisory, mechanization services, and sales to off-takers.
  • Business to Business (B2B) models in which ag-techs offer services to financial institutions (banks and micro-finance institutions) and agribusiness firms to collect and process data and information that can improve credit facilitation and supply chain management.

During this session, we will explore how these models directly or indirectly facilitate finance for micro and small agribusinesses through their platforms. We will also consider how these solutions use on-the-ground expertise to ensure their success and deliver value to all stakeholders in agricultural value chains.


Margarete O. Biallas, Agri-Finance Africa Practice Lead, International Finance Corporation (IFC) Moderator

Margarete has provided support to 50+ IFC clients in strategic and business planning on digital banking across the globe. She is currently leading IFC’s agri-finance practice in Africa, focusing on the intersection of technology and food security. Previously, Ms. Biallas was responsible for IFC’s financial markets advisory work in Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand, where she supported some of the earliest mobile financial services initiatives such as the start-up of WING. In parallel, she led IFC’s microfinance and mobile banking work across the East-Asia Pacific Region. Before joining IFC, Ms. Biallas held various positions with KfW including Senior Risk Manager, Credit Officer and Lead Investment Officer for global microfinance funds as well as positions leading financial institutions investments in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sarah Devermann, Manager, ISF Advisors

Sarah is a Strategic Advisory Manager at ISF Advisors. During her time at ISF, Sarah has focused almost exclusively on the AgTech and ClimateTech sectors across emerging markets. She has worked with a variety of industry-leading players to develop taxonomies and explore how AgTechs can promote gender equity, food security, and climate adaptation. Prior to ISF, Sarah worked in management consulting and attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Akshay Chandrasekhar, Head of Investor Relations and Sustainability, Apollo Agriculture

Akshay Chandrasekhar is Head of Investor Relations & Sustainability at Apollo Agriculture, a leading agri-fintech platform, empowering small-scale farmers across Africa to increase their profits and farm more sustainably. Prior to joining Apollo, he worked as an Investment Director at Elevar Equity, an impact VC fund (c.$250Mn AUM), investing in startups across agtech, edtech and fintech in India. Akshay’s prior experience spans across consulting, general management and investment banking across firms such as Amazon, Alvarez & Marsal and Nomura. Akshay has a Bachelor’s degree in Production Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Trichy and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

Aditya Thareja, Head of Strategy and Partnership, Jiva

Aditya is a founding team member of Jiva and a key member of its leadership team, overseeing strategy, business planning, and fundraising. Before Jiva, Aditya was a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), leading projects for clients in agriculture, FMCG, and private equity, with a focus on go-to-market design, growth strategy, and finance transformation. He has 12+ year of experience in supply chains and finance including with BCG and previously in operations at ITC and supply chain at ExxonMobil.

Prateep Basu, CEO and Chief Product Officer, SatSure

Prateep Basu is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of SatSure, a decision analytics startup leveraging satellite imagery, machine learning, and big data to provide solutions for sustainable development, food security, and climate resilience. With a background in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology and postgraduate studies from the International Space University, Prateep has extensive experience in both the business and technical aspects of the space industry. Before founding SatSure, Prateep worked as a scientist at ISRO and as a geospatial industry analyst at Northern Sky Research. Under his leadership, SatSure combines satellite data with various datasets to generate actionable insights for sectors such as agriculture, banking, and infrastructure​.

Abrhame Endrias, Founder & Managing, Lersha

Abrhame Endrias, an enthusiastic agripreneur, is the Founder and Managing Director of Green Agro Solutions. He has spent more than 10 years working at various agricultural value chains spanning from horticulture to mechanized service provision. Abrhame aims to establish a digital platform that makes farming accessible to everyone: I believe agriculture should not be feared by the youth, and the construction of such a platform to fulfill farming needs will attract more young people to agriculture.





Event Details:

Event dates: 06 June 2024

Location: Online

Organizer: SAFIN | SME Finance Forum



Quote: "The use of digital services, whether financial or application-based, improves access to services for smallholder farmers, driving productivity and production." Abrhame Endrias, Managing Director, Lersha

Summary article:

Digital platforms are creating an ecosystem that not only provides financial services, but also offers a suite of additional services crucial for the success of small-scale farmers such as access to inputs, markets and training. But two complex relationships must be managed in this space: combining on-the-ground efforts with digital technologies to ensure service quality while controlling costs, and engaging with local financial institutions to scale access to financial services for farmers. Experts from ISF Advisors, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Apollo Agriulture (Kenya), Jiva (Indonesia), Lersha (Ethiopia), and SatSure (India) shared their perspectives.

Key insights from the roundtable discussion include:

  1. Balancing high-tech and high-touch support
  2. Ag-techs as competitors and allies
  3. Working with Financial Institutions

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Session videos: