A United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean investor, Michael Matope, says he is in talks with foreign financiers to raise about £250 000 ($334 583) to expand his recently launched online agricultural crowd sourcing investment platform, Farmvest.
Matope introduced Farmvest recently under his tech company, Mitah Group, to help small-scale farmers get investments from Zimbabweans based in the diaspora.
“We have received $25 000 investment pledges to date. We are also talking to investors to inject capital in the parent company to the tune of £250 000 to fund expansion and hiring. We hope to have completed the deal by September 2018,” Matope told NewsDay yesterday.
“It is not 100% but we are talking to a number of different investors and venture capital funds so hopefully it goes through, will keep you in the loop on the progress of talks.”
The investment capital will bolster the Farmvest platform at a time where there is a lot of interest in agriculture locally.
He said Farmvest is currently open for registration and has a few projects listed on the platform, but will be launching a fuller version and mobile application next month.
The application and website will allow investors to manage all their investments online as well as allow them to invest in other projects.
Farmvest works in such a way that a farmer should first meet the requirements needed to be listed as stipulated on the online platform. Afterwards, the successful project is put live on the platform wherein investors will then peruse to choose a project to invest in.
Those who invest can do it in cycles from three to five months for poultry projects to seven to 12 months for vegetables and grain projects before seeing a return on investment.
“People who are looking to invest will log onto the website and view investment opportunities. They can then browse the various projects available, the projects details will lay out project type, investment terms, length and return on investment. They then are able to proceed with their choice or make a payment online on the website or via wire transfer,” Matope said.
“They are then issued with a share certificate with full terms of the investment. They will be then sent weekly updates on their investment. When the term ends and produce (from the project) is sold, they will be given back original investment capital plus interest or they can choose to invest in other projects.”
He said depending on the project, investors would get a return on investment between 15% and 25%, with investors being able to invest a minimum of $250.
For farmers, Matope said the investment on Farmvest would not be given to the farmer as a loan, but as a partnership.
“We will use the funds to assist in tilling the land, buying seeds and fertilizers. This ensures the funds are used for the intended purpose. We will also provide the farmers with an experienced agronomist and provide ongoing training from specialised agriculture experts in better farming practices for different type of crops and production methods to ensure they maximize on yields and profits,” Matope said
Farmvest is targeting to provide financial capital to over 2 000 small-scale farmers by the end of 2019.