Millions of smallholder farmers in West Africa are on the frontlines of climate change. In Senegal alone, over 60% of the population lives on less than $3.10 per day, with 57% living in rural areas. For these farmers, extreme weather, poor soil quality, and lack of infrastructure continue to exacerbate poverty and food insecurity.
That’s why we invested in Tolbi, a Pan-African climate-agtech startup using satellite imagery and AI to enable climate-smart agriculture practices on the continent with data. Tolbi's platform addresses the lack of agricultural and climate data in Africa. It offers smallholder farmers, agribusinesses, and agricultural stakeholders hyperlocal insights into weather patterns, irrigation requirements, soil health, and crop yields. This information helps to reduce inputs and operational costs, comply with new regulations on sustainable agriculture, and promote a net-zero emissions supply chain in agriculture. By optimizing inputs like water and fertilizer, farmers can boost productivity and incomes while adapting to climate change. For example, cashew farmers using Tolbi’s recommendations have increased yields by over 200% in some cases.
Here's a deeper look at why we believe Tolbi has the potential to drive impact at scale across West Africa:
Tolbi directly enables climate-smart practices like precision irrigation and soil management. In pilots, farmers reduced water usage by 50% and fertilizer usage by 30% - all while increasing yields. This builds climate resilience and income for farmers on the frontlines of climate change.
Beyond its direct impact on smallholder farmers, Tolbi also facilitates carbon sequestration through reforestation projects certified through their eTolbi Forest platform. This provides an additional revenue stream to local communities while fighting climate change.
As a native of Senegal, Tolbi’s Founder Mouhamadou Lamine Kebe is solving a problem he knows intimately. He has assembled an impressive advisory board and brought on impact-driven investors like Mercy Crop Ventures.
As Tolbi scales across commodities and countries, its climate impact will multiply. The company has set goals like managing 50,000 hectares sustainably by the end of 2023. With robust impact measurement frameworks in place, Tolbi can truly understand and optimize its impact over time.
Instead of deploying costly IoT sensors, Tolbi uses satellite imagery and machine learning to monitor crop health and provide recommendations via automated calls in local languages. This mobile-first approach makes the technology accessible and enables them to reach farmers often left behind by high-cost solutions.
Tolbi also innovates through its business model. Rather than selling directly to smallholders, Tolbi partners with agribusinesses who provide inputs to and purchase crops from the farmers. This B2B model creates structured incentives for satellite-based recommendations to reach many farmers.
As the team continues enhancing the product experience and expanding to new markets, Tolbi is cementing its position as an innovator in agtech for climate adaptation in Africa.
Beyond the 30,000 hectares currently covered, Tolbi is targeting expansion across commodities and countries. The team is already working with partners in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea, and Benin to unlock new markets.
Tolbi is also exploring new business lines like carbon sequestration, which leverages its existing satellite capabilities while diversifying revenue streams.
With a $2B+ addressable market in Ivory Coast cocoa alone, the founder aims to expand across 8 West African countries by 2028. Their multi-country strategy has massive potential to scale impact.
The company has ambitious goals, aiming to reach hundreds of thousands of hectares over the coming years. Backed by robust market validation and go-to-market strategies, Tolbi is poised for rapid growth.