Aquarech, Kenya’s first fish farming platform, closed an equity investment of USD 1.7 million to hire talent, acquire more feed, and set up infrastructure to support more vertical integration of their technology. The investment was led by Netherlands-based global aquaculture investment fund Aqua-Spark with additional investment from Acumen, Katapult and Mercy Corps Ventures.
Founded in 2019 and led by Kisumu-based founder and CEO Dave Okech, and co-founders James Odede and Joseph Okoth, Aquarech is working to meet Kenya’s need for fish, which serves as an affordable, healthy protein. As the population rapidly grows, so does fish consumption, which is expected to increase from 200 to 300kt over the next five years. Aquarech is filling that gap in the domestic supply chain by streamlining the production behind fish farming with a mobile app platform that allows manufacturers, farmers, and buyers to trade, buy, and sell quality fish feed, as well as learn best aquaculture practices and how to improve their incomes.
Local farmers often face a lack of resources and access to high-quality feed. Aquarech’s mission is to help increase production, improve small-scale farmer economics, and promote the overall growth of the aquaculture industry in Kenya. To achieve this, Aquarech supports small-scale farmers from all angles: by providing quality feed and climate-smart precision fish feeding techniques, market access, technical training and financial access, including a 90-day credit period to pay for feed.
“The proverb says, ‘If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime,’ and that’s what we’ve set out to do, by improving the aquaculture value chain,” said Dave Okech, founder and CEO. “The funding and partnership provided by our investors will promote the growth of our mobile-enabled platform, which is unlocking barriers faced by smallholder fish farmers and bringing the various value chain actors together while remaining farmer-centric.”
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kenya has the third largest economy in Africa, with a rapidly growing population. With its diverse and fertile landscape, Kenya has great conditions for farming and rich agriculture. The value of aquaculture is recognized as an agile and productive food supply source, with governmental subsidy programs to support local farmers. However, these farmers still face challenges and struggle to scale their businesses.
“Aquarech is committed to improving local livelihoods by supporting smallholder to medium farmers to become commercially and environmentally sustainable,” said Christiaan Lensvelt, head of New Deals at Aqua-Spark. “We look forward to supporting Dave and his team in achieving great things for the industry as one of the few aquaculture start-ups in Africa with a unique combination of field experience and digital tools.”