Kenya-based agritech Gro Intelligence to shut down two months after slashing headcount

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June 3, 2024
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2 min read

The news: 

  • Gro Intelligence, a Kenyan-born and United States-based agricultural insights platform, is reportedly closing shop, following difficulty in securing sufficient capital to stay in business.
  • Although the data analytics startup announced raising emergency funding in a bridged round in March 2024, it wasn’t enough to keep the company afloat as it couldn't raise more money from existing and new investors. 
  • Gro Intelligence’s woes were made public in February 2024 following reports that it couldn't pay employees despite raising $117 million since its launch in 2012.

The company, in its last public fundraising that was backed by Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures, raised $85 million in Series B. 

A few months after the board of the agricultural data platform replaced its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder, Sara Menker, and laid off 60% of its staff, the company announced to its remaining staff in Kenya and the US last week that it would be closing down, leaving only a skeleton team to wind operations down. 

In addition to being sued by former employees over alleged labour laws and violations mandating employers to provide advance written notice of mass layoffs, Gro Intelligence is also being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over suspected foul play.

Per AgFunderNews, the SEC is asking for communications and presentations to investors as part of its investigation to determine if any investor fraud or fund misrepresentation occurred.

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Similarly, James Cariello, who replaced Menker as CEO in February 2024 has yet to speak on the issues or respond to any request for commentary.

Founded in 2012 by energy commodities trader, Menker, Gro Intelligence claimed to be building the world’s largest agricultural data platform. The company collected data from government institutions, trade organisations, financial markets, and weather and geological agencies to provide actionable insights to agricultural companies.

Among its clients is fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, Unilever. 

While factors like the ongoing investigations and legal challenges worsened the company’s problem, its collapse has alluded to a tough fundraising environment and a poor product-market fit. 


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