Kenya data analytics startup Gro Intelligence shuts down

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Kenya data analytics startup Gro Intelligence shuts down

Months after the board of the agricultural data platform Gro Intelligence replaced CEO and founder Sara Menker, the New York and Nairobi-based company will shut down, despite raising emergency funding in March 2024. Despite that March bridge round, the business was unable to raise further capital from existing and new investors, AgFunderNews reported on Friday.

The company’s struggles became public in February 2024 following reports that it was struggling to meet payroll and pension payments despite raising $117 million throughout its existence–its last public fundraising was a $85 million Series B backed by Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures.

The company laid off 60% of its staff in March 2024 and will lay off the remaining staff in New York and Nairobi but retain a skeleton team to help wind up operations.

Former employees sued Gro over alleged labour violations after it laid them off without notice in March. The company is also under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly over fraud, according to AgFunderNews.

Gro Intelligence was founded in 2012 by energy commodity trader Sara Menker, and collected data from governments, financial markets, and weather agencies to give agricultural companies actionable insights. One of its biggest customers is FMCG company Unilever.

While the current investigations and legal woes have escalated the company’s problem, its collapse was caused by a tough fundraising environment and a product-market-fit issue.

“It had positioned itself as a food security platform to a small Asian country and a country in the Middle East exporting oil, without success. It had also attempted to engage the US government under a variety of guises but was only picking up bits and pieces of business here and there,” wrote AgFunderNews.

Gro is the third well-funded startup to shut down in 2024 after iProcure, a B2B agricultural inputs distributor, and Copia, a B2C e-commerce platform that entered administration in May.

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