Nakhla, an Iraqi-based agri-tech social enterprise, has received a six-figure investment from Euphrates Ventures, an Iraq-focused venture fund.
The investment was facilitated by the Iraqi Angel Investors Network (IAIN) and marks the first investment round completed by an Iraqi agri-tech startup. Nakhla is the Arabic name for date palm tree and has long been associated with Iraq's history and culture.
Nakhla was founded in 2018 by Labeeb Kashif Al-Gitta in Iraq to provide cultivation, harvesting and cleaning services to date palm trees across Baghdad. Users can subscribe to the company's services in exchange for a subscription fee and a revenue share of the palm tree's harvest.
In addition, users can adopt a date palm tree planted in a public space. The company sells the harvest of the palm trees it serves under its own brand as part of its partnership with the Iraqi Company for Manufacturing and Marketing Dates and Imar Al Iraq.
Labeeb, the CEO of Nakhla, has commented
"Date palm trees have always been considered a national treasure in Iraq. Today there are more than 19 million date palm trees, 7 million of which are not made productive. We want to change that".
Nakhla has been awarded the care of more than 12,000 date palm trees across Baghdad by the local municipality. The company has also secured sponsorship partnerships with major corporations in Iraq. Recently, the company has been selected to be part of the USAid sponsored MENA Regional Hub initiative of the Water and Energy for Food program. The company plans to launch its mobile app by mid-year and has plans to integrate AI and IoT elements into its services.
Labeeb further commented:
"There is great potential in reviving agriculture in Iraq, but we want to go beyond that and integrate the latest technologies into our service". It should be noted that Iraq's harvest yield of palm trees falls behind that of other countries in the region."
Euphrates Venture has made investments into five startups including Miswag, the leading Iraqi e-commerce platform, and Alsree3, a leading food delivery service. This investment marks Euphrates first venture into Agri-Tech.
Grant Felgenhauer, a Managing Partner at the firm, commented:
"Agriculture has the potential to be one of the most dynamic sectors of the non-oil Iraqi economy, but it is often overlooked by foreign and local investors. We are thrilled to be supporting the team at Nakhla as they expand their unique business model to deliver both economic returns as well as social impact."
Geoffrey Batt, a Managing Partner at the firm, added:
"Nakhla is attempting to revive a once-thriving industry in Iraq-we believe it can. The founders and employees have great expertise, drive and vision, and we are happy to play a role in helping them achieve their goals."
The investment has been facilitated by the Iraqi Angel Investors Network, an initiative by Kapita sponsored by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH via its project "ICT for Youth in Iraq".
Ali Al Suhail, the Network Manager for the Iraqi Angel Investors Network commented:
"Agri-Tech is an attractive space in Iraq that we are very excited about and foresee much larger activity in the coming years".