AB InBev invests in blockchain start-up BanQu

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has made a new investment in blockchain start-up BanQu. The brewer is impressed by BanQu’s blockchain platform, which connects small farmers in disadvantaged markets to the global supply chains in which they participate. The capital injection will drive BanQu’s growth in new markets.

Tony Milikin, Chief Sustainability and Procurement Officer at AB InBev, states that he is pleased to be able to solidify the partnership with BanQu through an equity investment. “Together, we are working to improve access to modern banking for thousands of farmers in underserved rural markets, driving inclusive growth and contributing to our own 2025 Sustainability Goal as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” according to Milikin.

The new investment secures BanQu’s fast-growing geographical presence in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The start-up now operates in 12 countries, including Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, Uganda, the United States and Zambia. Additional rollouts in China and Mexico are planned for later this year.

Visibility for farmers without an economic identity

Ashish Gadnis, co-founder and CEO of BanQu, confirmed that he and the brewer have scaled up the BanQu platform in several countries over the past year. “Farmers at the world’s ‘last mile’, traditionally excluded from the global economy and lacking a verifiable economic identity, are now visible, financially empowered, and connected in the global supply chain of AB InBev. The investment takes this partnership to a whole new level of commitment from both parties,” comments Gadnis.

The partnership with AB InBev was first announced in August 2018, after BanQu launched a successful pilot project in Zambia that benefited more than 2,000 small cassava farmers in the region. Rollouts in Uganda and India followed. Brazil is now the fourth market where BanQu will help AB InBev meet its sustainability targets.

Digital ledger of farmers’ transactions

“Over the last year, we have implemented the BanQu platform with over 4,000 of our direct farmers in Zambia, Uganda and India. Through this work, we are helping to create a digital ledger of farmers’ transactions that will create an economic identity and enable access to financial services. This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities,” says Maisie Devine, Global Director, Sustainability Investments & Accelerator at AB InBev.

BanQu has been able to help more than 200,000 small farmers to date. With its blockchain platform, the company is striving to help 100 million people out of extreme poverty by 2023.