Naspers, through its early-stage business funding initiative Naspers Foundry, has announced that it has invested R100 million into a South African Agritech startup Aerobotics. Both companies have indicated that investment is pending approval by South African authorities.

Aerobotics is a subscription-based artificial intelligence (AI) South African tech startup that provides tools for Β farmers to manage their crops.

β€œFood security is of paramount importance in South Africa, and the Aerobotics platform provides a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure. This young, all South African team, has produced a world-class technology solution in South Africa and has also successfully entered the US market where they are gaining momentum. This type of tech innovation addresses societal challenges, and is exactly the type of early-stage company that Naspers Foundry looks to back," said Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO South Africa of Naspers.

Aerobotics executives.

Investing in South African technology startups

This is Naspers Foundry's second investment in a South African technology startup since its inception in 2018. During June 2019, the fund announced its first investment of R30 million in South Africa's SweepSouth.

SweepSouth is a South African tech startup with an online cleaning services platform that connects clients with domestic cleaners.

During 2018 Naspers announced that it has committed R1,4 billion towards funding technology startups in South Africa over the next three years. This was announced during the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference 2018 which took place in Johannesburg on 26 October 2018.

Helping farmers in South Africa

Aerobotics was founded by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer in 2014

Some of the insights that the South African AgriTech startup provides to its clients include tree counts, the identification of missing trees, and the size and health of trees. The company has progressed its technology to engineer fruit counts and to provide data on fruit size and color.

β€œThe intersection of agriculture and technology has always been my passion and it has been incredible to work with a talented team, and leading agricultural groups, to contribute towards the future of agriculture. We are proud to be building quality technology in South Africa and delivering it to customers around the world," said James Paterson, Aerobotics co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.

Farmers use intelligence to manage their farms, trees, and fruit more efficiently. Aerobotics delivers insights through its proprietary Aeroview platform and Aeroview InField mobile app.

β€œOur journey is only just beginning, but already Aerobotics has demonstrated success in our ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. We have seen great support from commercial-scale farmers and, more recently, crop insurance companies in the US who require accurate tree-level information about their clients. We are excited to have Naspers as a partner, bringing proven skills in building global technology companies together with the capital required to continue building for, and with, the agricultural industry.”

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