startups And Financing
Dimo Yanchev is the CEO of Almacena Platform, an AgriTech company that has revolutionized the agricultural marketplace with its online coffee platform. With a mission to establish sustainable and transparent supply chains, Almacena enriches the lives of both coffee producers and consumers globally.
Dimo Yanchev, alongside co-founder Karl Robijns, has played a pivotal role in transforming Almacena into a leading B2B marketplace for agricultural products. Additionally, Almacena's AlmacenaOrigin app sets new standards by providing end buyers with full traceability to individual farmers, encompassing data from over 18,000 smallholder coffee producers across four African countries.
What drove the creation of Almacena Platform, and how does it address the existing challenges in the agricultural industry?
Agricultural supply chains are being transformed by megatrends like the increased connectivity in the world and better access to information, the push for traceability and transparency, and the digitalization of the industry.
The buyers and traders are embracing these changes and spearheading several initiatives at origin and destination, but the reality is that still, only about 5% of the world’s agricultural producers are selling on the international market.
Almacena was created to provide producers and their buyers with a trade services platform and sales execution channel that will allow them to grow their business and capture opportunities that are out of reach today due to a lack of finance, know-how, and access to services.
We are solving some of the main challenges to international trade, namely lack of finance and lack of trust.
We use our in-house digital tools and an embedded finance approach to provide real-time deal data (who is the producer, who is the trader, when was the contract signed, and how it is executed by which service providers and operators). It is the combination of data, services, and vetted operators that allows Almacena to attract trade finance lenders and support the creation and development of trade relationships.
It is a better trade for both buyers and sellers in terms of profitability, risk mitigation, and transparency.
Taking the path from banking to co-founding Almacena, how does your career background influence your approach to innovating in the AgriTech sector?
Both Karl and I have decades of experience in commodities trading and trade finance, working with some of the world’s biggest commodity traders and producers during our careers in investment and trade finance banks. I think we have a unique focus and appreciation of the finance needs along the supply chain and the risks faced by the supply chain participants and lenders. We have been able to translate our experience and expertise into digital tools that address the main challenges in the industry in terms of lack of know-how and trust in the deal execution and bring in best-in-class service providers and financiers to unblock the trading potential of origin producers and help them connect and deliver to international buyers.
How does Almacena approach partnerships to advance its mission in AgTech?
As a platform, our success is determined by the network or ecosystem we can build and the partnerships we can create. On one hand, is the partners whose services we connect with the trade flow. For example, we work with AON and AMICA for cargo insurance; Atradius offers credit risk insurance; MBN offers warehousing, Inoks offers finance, AGL offers land transportation, etc. What we bring in addition to the international partners is the local network -whether it is trucking services in Tanzania or a coffee lab in DRC, we make sure the trades conducted on Almacena benefit from professional and independent services.
Ultimately, we see ourselves as the infrastructure for the producers and buyers to interact. Everything we provide is geared toward helping them grow their business in a mutually beneficial way.
How does Almacena ensure user confidence for those new to the platform in agriculture?
Trust is the main challenge in international trade and even more so in agricultural supply chains where next to the risk on the counterparty, businesses need to establish the quality of the product too.
We have a 3-tier approach to building this trust:
How does Almacena stay innovative amidst evolving agricultural technologies?
First, at Almacena, our focus is on servicing our clients – sellers and buyers of agricultural commodities – so they can grow their businesses. We try to follow closely their business and constantly seek ways to improve their operations. Some examples include integrating thermal printers with our OriginApp to reduce admin and costs, or adding FX and local payment services to reduce currency risks, or providing an RFQ channel to find new partnerships. Second, as a technology company, we follow the megatrends that shape our society and industry and what those mean for the Almacena users. For example, we have added Blockchain to ensure data immunity and a single source of truth for the trade participants.
Third, we apply best practices in other segments to the Almacena operations. Offering embedded finance structures such as pass-through export finance or repos we don’t call them like this to avoid jargon) that are normally accessible to the biggest operators and now can be accessible to even small buyers and sellers.
What are potential exit scenarios for Almacena investors?
Almacena aims to build the biggest platform for agriculture trade, empowering buyers, sellers, service providers, and niche companies to grow their business. The way Alibaba helped Chinese producers reach the world trade stage and start selling internationally, we want to help the 95% of producers who currently are cut from the international market find all they need to become international exporters.
Our technology can be applied to all container-traded commodities and across the world.
Almacena investors who join our journey can expect us to grow the business to the IPO stage in the next 5 years.
What milestones does Almacena aim for in agricultural solutions?
In 2024 we are rolling our solution to South American and Asian coffee producers and started adding new destination markets. The first deals (already contacted) will see our presence expand to Dubai and the US.
Next to the geographic expansion, we have started adding other verticals – tea being the first one. Our goal is to have at least 3 verticals actively traded on Almacena in 2024.
We project to grow volume by 500% + and position Almacena as the go-to hub for international agri trade.
Why should investors join Almacena in your growth plans?
Almacena offers a real solution to a problem that affects millions of people around the world. We have already added 200+ cooperatives from around the world with over 300.000 farmers and look to provide them with finance, services, and digital tools to sell more of the produce internationally and at a higher price. Ultimately helping them develop their brand and relationships with international buyers.
Growing our business means growing our positive impact in the rural communities we serve and creating a better trade for everyone in the supply chains we service.
We have already been supported by EU and American VCs, FMO (Dutch Development Bank), DGGF (Dutch Good Growth Fund), PWC Nederland, KBC Bank, and high-profile private investors.
Would be glad to welcome new investors to Almacena and work together to build the next generation of international traders.
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