swiftVEE is targeting global expansion after the South African AgriTecth startup secured $1.5 million (R23.6 million).
The investment round was led by Sybtropico, an unlisted company specialising in Agri investments across the fruit, vegetable, and livestock industries and a private syndicate.
The industry is investing heavily in technology to create farm-to-fork solutions that optimise food production across the value chain in fruit, veg and livestock.
Founded in 2016 and officially launching in 2017, swiftVEE is an agricultural trading platform that helps the buyers and sellers of livestock connect in real-time through the use of third-party “livestock agents”. Livestock agents are similar to property agents and broker deals between buyers and sellers.
swiftVEE, a proudly African company, is the founder of real-time online livestock auctions in South Africa and Africa. It uses artificial intelligence to match the buyers and sellers of livestock from anywhere in the world to help buyers acquire livestock at the most optimal times.
Since going live in 2019, the startup said it has done over 150 auctions in less than 18 months and even post-COVID its bookings for 2021 are growing.
“We have over 125000 farmers in our network and have engaged buyers and sellers across South Africa in over 90% of the livestock trading industry,” , Russel Luck, the CEO of swiftVEE, told TechFinancials on Friday.
“We provide livestock auctions in areas where there is almost zero internet connectivity.”
“We’ve facilitated overseas buyers from Thailand, America, France, Australia (and even Zimbabawe) to buy South African livestock. We’ve broken two South African records for the most expensive Boran Bull and most expensive Simbra Bull ever sold in South Africa.”
The investment will help swiftVEE reach new markets and service not only livestock farmers but farmers who have interests in different sectors like fruit and veg.
“We will be expanding into Namibia and Botswana and hopefully Zimbabwe and use artificial intelligence for pricing models, food efficiency models and map livestock agri across Africa.,” Luck said.
“The future of food security is understanding the production cycle of livestock from farm-to-fork and this is our next major focus. There has been an interest expressed to have our operations expand overseas and we’d like to go into UK and America and apply machine learning solutions to foreign markets.”
Luck added that the world is doing a global “re-boot” financially and although we are all in stormy seas, there is an opportunity to create new ways to swim.
“The weakening of the ZAR makes South Africa livestock relatively more attractive than livestock abroad and the quality of our livestock is world-class. This means overseas buyers will find South Africa livestock relatively more desirable than livestock in Australia, USA, etc,” he explained.
“I believe China will be a major consumer of South Africa livestock in the next two years and we’re excited to open up South African agri to new markets where growing populations will need to find smarter and cheaper ways to secure their food.”
swiftVEE services commercial farmers and small-scale farmers on an even playing field. Previously, small-scale farmers were not able to sell livestock in large numbers and therefore received poor prices because they were limited by geographical auctions they could attend. “With swiftVEE we’ve opened up the market for small-scale farmers and commercial farmers to connect and transact,” said Luck.
swiftVEE is the third Google launchpad company from South Africa following in the footsteps of Jumo and Aerobotics.
“Our company follows the trend of technology that focuses heavily on machine learning and A.I (Jumo for credit lending) and Aerobotics for crop optimization.”
swiftVEE has also been recognised by Facebook-MEST as most innovative South Africa company in Africa (2018) and United nations best e-agri platform in the world for sustainability (2019).