Why we invested in 3DIMO

Published 1 February 2021
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3DIMO is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa but they are already keen to explore further regional expansion. They have a bold vision to empower farmers globally with data and insights that will ease the monitoring of livestock health and improve animal welfare. We enthusiastically support this vision and here is why:

There is a sizeable market opportunity at the intersection of livestock farming and smart agriculture

  • Globally, livestock production accounts for over 40% of agricultural production and we expect the demand for animal products in developing countries to more than double over the next 10 years.
  • Livestock farming is a large industry in Africa, the head size of herds in EthiopiaSudan and Tanzania are estimated to exceed 100 million cattle.
  • In 3DIMO’s home market, South Africa, 69% of the agricultural land is deemed suitable for livestock production, with the sector contributing to 49% of agricultural income.
  • Additionally, South Africa has approximately 144,000 livestock farms. 130,800 of which are classed as small-holder farmers and 13,200 are commercial farmers.
  • The global smart agriculture industry is expected to continuously transform farming, growing from $13.8 billion USD in 2020 to $22.0 billion USD by 2025.

This potential growth presents a significant opportunity especially when considering the large market size of livestock farming within South Africa, the wider continent and global markets.

The problem of undetected viral infections in animals is serious…

2020 served to highlight the magnitude of harm that can be caused by animal-borne viruses. In livestock, undetected infections can spread rapidly and cause deaths that result in huge losses for farmers. To put this into context, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa have lost up to 26% of their revenues to livestock disease-related deaths in the past 5 years. A job is also at risk for every 20 farm animals that are lost. Aware that at least 150 million of the rural farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are either partially, or fully dependent on livestock to sustain their livelihoods, we believe that 3DIMO is solving a crucial problem that is affecting a significant part of society.

3DIMO’s product, Thola, provides a globally accessible animal biometric identification, linking an animal to a farmer

Thola is a system that uses animal nose prints to create a biometric identity for each animal. Thola is then used to detect any health risks in livestock in real-time by leveraging infrared imagery and artificial intelligence. By detecting anomalies in livestock within a farm and nearby regions this system is able to alert local farmers should there be a breakout of disease. In-app notifications helps farmers to prevent losses by seeking timely treatment or vaccination for their herd.

Coincidentally, this functionality also solves another critical issue that farmers face – livestock theft. In South Africa, farmers have seen a spike in animal theft, losing $60 million worth of livestock in the last two years. Cattle rustling has also increased in scale and violence in other parts of Africa such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Cameroon. By providing an identification system that links animals to their farmers, 3DIMO is creating more transparency when it comes to animal ownership. This is especially useful in jurisdictions where it has been historically difficult to resolve animal theft disputes.

The business has a strong revenue model that is embedded in empowering farmers

3DIMO aims to generate revenue by providing farmers as much value as possible. Currently, clients pay a minimal annual subscription fee to use the system based on the livestock size. We however expect most of the revenue to be generated when the farmers access features that will actively help them deter losses and increase revenues. For example, there are opportunities for B2B revenue partnerships where bankers can disburse funds in the form of nutrition and health credits, and insurers could also leverage data to provide more affordable coverage.

We believe in the 3DIMO team!

We are very excited to back a business that is led by a serial female-entrepreneur! After spending a week conducting an intensive workshop with the team to strategize the way forward, we can also attest to the team’s tenacity and dedication to their mission. Moreover, the co-founders, Nneile and Amit, have a strong technical background, having done extensive research in mechanical and electronic engineering. They are supported by a UX researcher, machine learning engineer, data scientist and a project engineer.