Most Innovative Companies

Gro Intelligence

A lack of reliable data on agriculture in Africa has hobbled investment and growth in the sector. Africa has more than half of the world’s unused arable land, and 65% of the continent’s workforce works in agriculture. Yet less than 1% of outstanding commercial bank loans actually go to the agricultural sector, according to Gro Intelligence founder Sara Menker, a former Wall Street commodities trader originally from Ethiopia. Her New York-Nairobi big-data startup Gro Intelligence aims to change that. The company’s cloud-based software platform, Clews, sifts through a constantly updated stream of food and agriculture data never before accessible in one place—satellite imagery, government and industry reports, weather forecasts, and reports directly from small farmers—and allows users to ask simply worded questions (“Is coconut production keeping up with demand?” “How will weather patterns affect soybean crops?”) about things like crop yields, weather, consumption, and prices in near real time. In addition to helping financial industry customers analyze opportunities, Gro Intelligence helps government policy makers, farmers, buyers, food processors, and logistics providers to plan, invest, and forecast with unprecedented accuracy. After proving the program in parts of Africa, one of the least understood agricultural markets, Gro Intelligence is looking to export its platform to other parts of the world.

2017: Africa
staff: 35
headquarters: New York City and Nairobi