TAMPA, Fla. — Climate data startup Amini has raised $2 million for a satellite constellation to gather more Africa-focused environmental information.
European climate technology fund Pale Blue Dot led the pre-seed funding round, Amini announced May 18, supporting a six-month-old venture currently using public satellite data to provide intelligence for smallholder farmers on the continent.
Amini’s aggregation and analytics software taps into European Space Agency Sentinel and NASA Landsat data to deliver information on drought, flood, soil, and crop health.
Kate Kallot, Amini’s CEO with a background in artificial intelligence technology, said she founded the startup in December after realizing a significant gap in African-specific environmental data during the United Nations’ latest climate change conference.
Although incorporated in Delaware, Kallot said all eight Amini employees are based in Nairobi, Kenya, where it plans to more than double in size this year.
“The digital infrastructure we take for granted in other parts of the world, including [satellite] constellations, are not designed for Africa,” Kallot said via email.
Landsat’s resolution is sufficient for providing intelligence for U.S. mega-farms with a single crop, she said, but is not optimized for much smaller farms in Africa with multiple crop varieties and different topologies.
“It’s a different context,” she said, and “when you get out of densely populated areas — Africa becomes dark with some of these providers.”
While Planet and other private small satellite operators target this market, Kallot said Amini aims to provide solutions that would be more affordable for customers in the region.
The company is not ready to discuss details about this proposed constellation, including when it could deploy its first satellite.
Climate business boost
Africa has about 65% of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, according to the African Development Bank; however, countries across the continent collectively only account for 3% of global GDP.
Amini says a lack of reliable and trustworthy agricultural data is partly to blame for this disparity because it hampers business decisions and capital allocation.
The company said its first customers have come from the agricultural insurance market, where Amini’s analytics platform is helping to improve coverage solutions for the sector.
As more multinational companies seek precise measurements of their carbon footprint, and the ability to report their environmental impact to investors and customers, Amini also sees a growing business opportunity in helping to monitor supply chains.
Other early-stage investors in the company’s pre-seed round include Superorganism, RaliCap, W3i, and Emurgo Kepple Ventures.