GreenPath closed their Series A and it’s a big deal!
Earlier this spring, EWB heard that GreenPath, a venture we invested in back in 2016, just closed their Series A round of investment. This is a HUGE milestone for GreenPath, EWB’s investment model, and for social enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa. Here’s why:
First: What does GreenPath do?
GreenPath Food partners with smallholder farmers in Ethiopia to source high-quality produce grown using permaculture-based principles. Partner Farmers transition to regenerative ‘food forests’ providing year-round productivity and long-term agricultural benefits. GreenPath then identifies and sells the produce to international buyers who share the company’s values and are committed to growing their supply of organic-certified and sustainably grown food. Ultimately, the company removes barriers that prevent Ethiopia’s millions of smallholder farmers from accessing premium global markets.
Closing a Series A is a big deal!
GreenPath closing their Series A round means they were able to attract new investors who can now support the venture in taking their innovative model to the next level. Closing a Series A is hard; in the United States, even with an ecosystem of venture capitalists and angel investors, up to 60 percent of businesses fail to close their Series A. For Greenpath to accomplish this in sub-Saharan Africa, where there isn’t the same culture of support for entrepreneurs, is a mighty feat indeed.
A startup company’s investment round tells you where they are on their growth trajectory. Early-stage or “seed” stage companies are fledgling businesses that are early on in proving their business model. Series A is the next step, followed by B and C rounds of raising money from investors. So GreenPath closing their Series A ultimately means the business has now matured passed the “seed-stage” and the initial fundraising the entrepreneurs did to get their idea off the ground.
Throughout this early seed-stage, Greenpath has partnered with over a hundred smallholder farmers, enabling them to become EU Organic certified. Partner Farmers receive high-quality, organic inputs, farm-level training and technical support, and guaranteed purchasing at fair, transparent prices. This has helped current Partner Farms increase their income as much as ten times, and secure regular, year-round payments that improve their economic well-being and resilience.
What does closing the Series A mean for GreenPath?
Funding from other investors through the Series A round enables GreenPath to optimize their operations to grow their impact for the millions of smallholder farmers and their families across the country. The investment will help increase the company’s sales and production, improve its operational efficiency, and unlock more sustainable revenue generation for a growing smallholder network. GreenPath plans to scale their flagship operation in Butajira and expand to new sites in Ethiopia.
GreenPath’s model has great potential to create positive change for the environment, economies, and livelihoods. For the environment, the practice is sustainable; for the economy, the smallholder farming sector can grow; for livelihoods, GreenPath significantly increases farm yields and farmer incomes.
How EWB helped GreenPath overcome challenges in closing their Series A round
Of the nine social enterprises in our investment portfolio, GreenPath is the first to reach this milestone. EWB was the largest seed round investor in 2016, which helped the team meet key growth milestones over the 18 months. This early-stage support provided by EWB, which also includes helping GreenPath hire a sales and marketing manager through EWB’s fellowship program, accelerated their progress in demonstrating traction of their model and better positioned GreenPath to seek funding from new investors so they could continue scaling.
This is what EWB does. Our blend of support for early-stage businesses, combining appropriately skilled talent with financial investments, helps overcome common barriers to establishing and growing a successful social enterprise. EWB’s patient support of GreenPath over the past 18 months played an important role in the venture’s progress and momentum, ultimately helping them enter the Series A process. For example, EWB Fellow Ele Gower, who is GreenPath’s sales and marketing manager, helped significantly increase their network of export partners.
“EWB Canada has been an incredible partner,” said Jacie Jones, GreenPath’s Managing Director. “EWB’s partnership unlocked invaluable capital and support for us, at a point in the company’s growth where it was both most critical and most difficult to secure.”
These successes speak to the work and competency of our partnerships, and we are amazed to see the growth in GreenPath since we started working with them.
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