Acumen Blog

Rural Farmer Photo

Announcing a New Investment: Mekelle Farms

Acumen is pleased to announce an investment in AGFlow Ventures, the majority owner of Mekelle Farms, Ethiopia’s largest producer of day-old chicks. Mekelle Farms was established in 2010 to produce productive and disease-resistant chicks for smallholder farmers across Ethiopia. This investment is Acumen’s first in Ethiopia, a country of great potential with a population of over 90 million and GDP growth of  over 7% during the past 5 years, according to the World Bank.

Rural Farmer Photo

Mekelle Farms targets the rural farmer market, supplying farmers with breeds which can thrive in the village environment, are fast maturing, and produce five times as many eggs when compared with non-descript local Ethiopian chickens.  The company produces over 1 million day-old chicks per year and has plans to increase this to  2 million within 3 years. Mekelle Farms also produces and distributes  high-quality, affordable feed for rural farmers.

Customer Spotlight

Shamrawit, 24-years old, a college graduate with a degree in journalism, is one of Mekelle Farms’ growers. Articulate and thoughtful, Shamrawit describes how she cares for her chickens in their vulnerable first month. On the floor is a folded mat: her bed to ensure she’s there for nighttime emergencies. When asked about her dreams, her eyes well up. “One day, I hope to raise 10,000 chicks at a time.” She is now making her way in the world. Her sense of purpose inspires.

Shamrawit owns her own chicken farm through MekelleShamrawit is a chicken grower with Mekelle Farms

“I cannot help but think of Shamrawit’s story as well in terms of the world’s challenges around the future of work. This is especially urgent on a continent like Africa where in several countries, 50% of the population is less than 25 years old,” said CEO of Acumen Jacqueline Novogratz.

Duncan Onyango, East Africa Director at Acumen said, “Social impact is central to Acumen’s work, Mekelle Farms’ model presents a clear opportunity to improve the livelihoods of small holder farmers while addressing the challenge of malnutrition in children by providing a ready source of protein.”

farmer high rez

Approximately 30% of the population in Ethiopia lives below the poverty line and 47% of children experience stunting and wasting as a result of extreme malnourishment. Poultry, particularly village-raised poultry, presents a great  opportunity for increased protein intake and improved incomes for smallholder farmers and rural women.

“At Mekelle Farms we have created an efficient, scalable, and economically viable distribution chain to bring improved breeds and feed to the rural household at the grassroots level. Acumen’s patient capital model is an excellent addition to our capital base  as we scale our business and impact the lives of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia,” said Joseph Sheilds, Mekelle Farms General Manager.

Acumen has invested over $30 million across East Africa  since 2007, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses—in agriculture, housing, health, water and energy—that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor.   Acumen’s recent investments in the region include Miliki Afya, a low cost high quality healthcare provider in Kenya, as well as KZ Noir, a specialty coffee producer that sources its coffee from over 10,000 smallholder coffee farmers in Rwanda.

For more information please contact: Kenneth Macharia, East Africa Business Development and Communications Manager at Acumen on Email. kmacharia@acumen.org

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