Semaai, An AgTech Startup To Begin Transforming Rural And Agricultural Development In Indonesia

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 | 778 Views

Semaai’s mission is to give millions of farmers and rural MSMEs the opportunity to create sustained livelihoods and access to better financing, services and new markets

Semaai, an AgTech startup based in Indonesia, has announced US$1.25 million in pre-seed funding led by Surge, Sequoia Capital India’s rapid scale-up program for startups in Southeast Asia and India, and Beenext. The startup is building a full-stack agri-tech solution to help farmers and rural MSMEs maximise their earning potential and revitalise rural agricultural communities in Indonesia.

Agriculture in Indonesia is a $100 billion industry that comprises 13.5% of the nation’s GDP and is powered by more than 40 million farmers and small businesses in rural areas – nearly a third
(29%) of the country’s labour force. Much of the farming workforce is made up of smallholders, small scale farmers, and rural MSMEs such as toko tanis, which are small agri-retailers that supply farming inputs and products to smallholders. Despite their contribution to Indonesia’s economy, these farmers and rural MSMEs find it extremely difficult to sustain their livelihoods and take advantage of the growing middle-class demand for diversified food products. This is due to the fragmented and complex agricultural supply chains in Indonesia, which leads to opaque pricing, lack of access to affordable farming inputs, and a huge mismatch in supply and demand.

Semaai is aiming to address such systemic issues in the industry by offering a comprehensive suite of services for rural agricultural communities. The startup is providing customised consultancy through its team of expert agronomists, access to productivity tools such as soil testing technology as well as fairly priced farming inputs such as seed and fertiliser products. Semaai plans to expand its network of service delivery centres to deploy their services, starting with toko tanis (agri-retailers) and eventually reaching the vast number of smallholders in rural Indonesia. Down the line, this ensures that farmers are able to cut out middlemen and grow their income through a more transparent, streamlined agricultural supply chain. In just five months since launch, Semaai has seen the gross merchandise value (GMV) of products sold to agri-retailers and MSMEs increase by tenfold. The startup aims to deliver its services and impact up to 100,000 smallholders and rural MSMEs by next year.

“Digitalisation of upstream agri-MSMEs has the potential to be a game-changer for the Indonesian agri-ecosystem. At Semaai, we believe in harnessing technology to transform the way smallholder farmers and small businesses operate, and equip them with the necessary tools and skills to maximise their profits. We’re confident that together with our experienced team and unique online-to-offline approach, we can grow exponentially to deliver meaningful impact to more farmers. With the funding, we’re excited to strengthen our team, deepen our distribution systems and expand across Indonesia,” said co-founder Muhammad Yoga Anindito.

Semaai was founded in April 2021 by Muhammad Yoga Anindito, Abhishek Gupta and Gaurav Batra. Yoga previously led his own agri-input distributor company, Hasana, which greatly deepened his understanding of Indonesia’s agricultural value chain, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and a Master’s Degree from the University of Stuttgart. Abhishek has worked with Indonesian, Australian and Indian governments, Unilever and the World Bank to lead rural projects in agri-business, fintech and policies. Gaurav has led multiple engineering, growth and analytics teams at various globally-focused startups, and was previously at Goldman Sachs. Angel investors Nipun Mehra, Founder & CEO of e-commerce startup Ula; Harshet Lunani, founder and CEO of Qoala; and Prashant Pawar, Technology Investment Banker at Houlihan Lokey also participated in the fundraise.

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