Ethiopian agritech startup Lersha has been selected as one of the 11 startups under the GSMA Innovation Fund for Climate Resilience and Adaptation, and will receive an equity-free grant of between £100,000 and £250,000 to scale its innovation.
The one-stop digital platform for smallholder farmers that offers farm inputs, mechanization services, and agro-climate information, will use the funds to scale the development of its new agri-credit and insure-tech products for farmers.
As part of the program, over the course of 18 months, Lersha will also receive technical support from the Fund, which aims to accelerate digital innovations that enable vulnerable populations to adapt, anticipate, and absorb the negative impacts of climate change.
Lersha, which aims to address the critical challenges Ethiopian smallholder farmers face was able to be one of the 11 winners after competing with 524 applications from 70 countries,
Established by its parent company, Green Agro Solution, in 2018, the Lersha platform, combines a mobile application, a call center, and agents.
The startup enables farmers to access farm inputs, hire mechanization services, and request dynamic agro-climate advisory services. The platform has been able to reach 79,000 farmers so far.
Lersha decided to scale the usage of the platform to include agriculture finance and insurance after observing a consistent gap.
“Without the capital required for farmers to obtain mechanization services when needed and the shield to protect them in case of climate effects, smallholders remain vulnerable. Our credit and insurance products for farmers were designed to mitigate these, and the GSMA fund will see its large-scale adoption,” Abrhame Endrias, founder of Lersha, told Shega.
In its pilot stage, Lersha was able to insure 129 farmers in partnership with KMD and Oromia Insurance. Lersha who will be matching the grant from the Fund, says it’s in talks with microfinance institutions in regards to the agri-credit product.
The GSMA Innovation Fund for Climate Resilience and Adaptation was launched last year with funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Among Lersha, eight African startups have been named among the recipients of the grants.