AFEX expands operations to Kenya, launches US$1m loan programme

KENYA – AFEX, a Nigerian commodities exchange and commodities market player, has announced its expansion into Kenya, following a successful pilot phase in the most diversified economy in East Africa.

As part of the expansion, AFEX Fair Trade Limited (AFTL), has launched a US$1 million loan program that will allow farmers to gain access to seed and fertiliser for their crops, to mitigate ever rising commodities prices.

Under the program, 5000 Kenyan farmers will be able to take out input loans to access timely inputs and gradually scale their businesses.

“This is one of the most dynamic commodities markets in the world and we are excited to work with Kenyan farmers to help them scale their operations,” Ayodeji Balogun, CEO at AFEX said.

“We are acutely aware that increasing food production is futile without an efficient and robust warehousing system to underpin commodities trading, and that technology is key to developing the whole agriculture space in Africa in the coming years.”

Part of the company’s broader pan-African growth targets, the expansion will allow AFEX to replicate its success in Nigeria in securing better livelihoods for smallholder farmers and enable seamless access to pan-African commodities trading across the continent, while bolstering the continent’s food security. 

Recently named first in the Financial Times (FT) ranking of Africa’s Fastest-Growing Companies – Agriculture & Commodities category 2022, AFEX is bringing its depth of experience, and unique storage and distribution solutions to Kenya, with a goal of trading over 500,000 metric tonnes of agricultural commodities by 2025.

As of November 2021, analysts estimate 7.9 million people in Kenya lacked sufficient food for consumption, which represents 15.4 percent of Kenya’s population.

AFEX enables farmers to participate in market opportunities through its unique platform WorkBench.

The platform allows farmer transactions with AFEX’s network of warehouses to be executed and recorded, supporting seamless trade across the eight warehouses currently operational in Kenya.

AFEX Kenya’s new 14-strong team is headed up by Managing Director, Tabitha Njuguna, who oversaw its successful pilot phase, during which time maize was the main commodity traded. There are plans to add rice, sorghum, and coffee to the exchange in the coming months.

“The technology powering our operations is one of the best on the continent and is instrumental to our capacity to provide access to logistics delivery, advisory services, inputs, and crucially, access to the market, which are all key to the future of agriculture in Africa,” Tabitha Njuguna, MD, AFEX Fair Trade Limited (AFTL) Kenya, said.

“We want to dismantle one of the biggest barriers for farmers growing their business – access to finance. So far, we’re delighted to have enabled 70% of the 5,000 Kenyan farmers who approached AFEX for input loans and we are committed to empowering many more farmers over the next few months.”

AFEX launched its Kenyan pilot operations in the last quarter of 2021, and has already recorded significant results, with over 4,000 metric tonnes of commodities traded and an estimated 7,100 served by AFEX.

The Kenya expansion signals AFEX’s infrastructure commitment across the continent as it exports its business model to key strategic locations.

In addition to Kenya, AFEX plans to expand to Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zambia within the next 10 years.

Having built itself from the ground up in an agricultural sector widely perceived as one difficult for businesses to operate in, AFEX is anticipating strong growth and significant measurable impact in Kenya’s relatively more developed agricultural sector.

Kenyan farmers have, on average, larger holdings than their Nigerian counterparts, in addition to better developed storage and distribution facilities.

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