Omidyar Network invests in property rights startup Landmapp to help Ghanaian farmers document their land
WASHINGTON (February 13, 2017) -- Omidyar Network announced today that it has invested in Landmapp BV, an Amsterdam-based property rights company that enables smallholder farmers to document and protect their land holdings. The investment will help Landmapp to grow its customer base in Ghana, where the company is providing this unique service primarily to cocoa farmers. The transaction also involved participation by HERi Africa, an existing investor in the company. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Landmapp was established in 2015 by two Amsterdam-based entrepreneurs, Simon Ulvund and Thomas Vaassen. Landmapp offers a mobile platform that provides smallholder farmer families with documentation of their land. Their first country of operation is Ghana, and Ulvund and Vaassen have plans to expand into other countries following this successful rollout.
Many of the world’s 500 million smallholder families face two interrelated challenges: they hold little, if any, rights to their land and lack formal documentation; being restricted to the informal sector, they often cannot access technical and financial services to improve their livelihoods. Documented property rights enable them to plan for their future, including by investing in their land and property, insuring the health of their families and sending their children to school. This has a highly positive impact on the economic wellbeing of the farmers, their families and their communities.
For smallholder farmers, securing their land is often a large and very complex challenge. Landmapp provides an end to end affordable service, from the time the farmer signs up, till they hold a legal land certificate in their hands.
Landmapp has a field-based team of surveyors who use handheld GPS devices to map each farmer’s plot. The team verifies the farmer’s identify, validates the land claim with neighbours, submits the claim to the authorities for legalisation and delivers a final land certificate to the farmer. Already, the company has sold more than 2,000 documents to smallholder farmers in Ghana, demonstrating that farmers are willing and able to pay for this valuable documentation.
“We are delighted to be investing in Landmapp and its exciting model,” said Omidyar Network Venture Partner Peter Rabley. “They have clearly shown that farmers in Ghana understand the value of land documentation and are willing to pay for the legal protection they offer. We believe this model can be replicated in other countries.”
“Land and property rights is a complex sector, requiring significant knowledge and deep relationships in order to succeed. Omidyar Network has both, so we really couldn’t have a better partner on board,” said CEO Simon Ulvund. “And with HERi Africa, we have an investor with a thorough understanding of agriculture value chains and smallholders.”
“We’re now able to focus on growing our business in Ghana, first looking at scaling the number of land documents sold, while also partnering with complimentary businesses such as financial service providers, unlocking new products and services for smallholder farmers, said Thomas Vaassen, the company’s CTO.”