Founders of Releaf, Ikenna Nzewi, Uzoma Ayogu and Isaiah Udotong, have secured a $120,000 investment from YCombinator – the world’s most prestigious early startup investor.
This is to connect African Agribusinesses to customers they can trust in Nigeria.
The founders of Releaf are said to be Nigerian-Americans who are also products of Yale, Duke, and MIT respectively.
The founders were said to be working at Bain, Microsoft, and Facebook while they worked on the “Releaf” project part-time.
Realizing the endless opportunities which agricultural value chain offers, the founders of Releaf want to contribute to the growth of agriculture as envisioned by the FG by connecting and fostering trust among agribusinesses in Nigeria.
According to reports, the founders were inspired to work in agriculture by former Minister of Agriculture and current President of ADB, Mr. Akinwumi Adesina.
Ikenna says, “Portals with millions of African businesses do not facilitate many true business connections, because most business originates through word of mouth. It became clear to us most of the business-to-business challenges result from a lack of trust”.
On how Releaf connects a buyer and a seller using their platform, he explained that, first, businesses register and indicate which commodities they are looking to sell. Then, they are presented with a list of verified buyer contracts for those commodities that they may apply to.
Releaf, as a final step, verifies the seller and if they are qualified, makes a direct connection between the two parties; instead of sending cold inquiries to buyers, contacting is directly facilitated by Releaf to ensure 90% response rate from clients.
Ikenna further said: “One of the key benefits of the platform is when businesses provide more information about who they work with, it increases the likelihood of Releaf platform informing them of a mutual connection shared with a buyer contract holder”.
Companies with mutual ties are also recommended to connect with one another just like the kind of connection Facebook provides.
Ikenna states that sharing more trusted business contacts increases a person’s chance of finding a mutual connection with buyers five times.
Releaf has over 600 verified agribusinesses, facilitated over 100 connections and are now publicly allowing interested agribusinesses apply for verification.