In 2018, AB InBev approached Highline Beta with the idea of building a startup accelerator program focused on solving sustainability challenges for the company and the world. This fits very well with our vision of improving corporate-startup collaboration and we designed and launched the 100+ Sustainability Accelerator. BanQu was among those startups in the accelerator program.
Read more about how we designed and launched an accelerator dedicated to corporate-startup collaboration with AB InBev.
The inaugural cohort of 100+ was incredibly successful. Over half of the 21 startups that participated have received commercial contracts with AB InBev to scale their technologies and solutions. A number of the startups also received investment from AB InBev, including BanQu.
BanQu is a software company leveraging non-cryptocurrency blockchain technology to help unbanked populations in developing countries build financial identities. BanQu provides complete supply chain transparency to global brands, with a focus on the people traditionally cut off from banking systems, like small-scale farmers, which AB InBev works with across the globe. In the pilot conducted through the accelerator program, BanQu onboarded over 4,000 cassava and barley farmers in Zambia and Uganda, giving them a transparent and traceable record of their crops, and allowing them to get paid directly through the platform. AB InBev gets the supply chain visibility they need to help their farmers succeed, and farmers get the financial support to stabilize and then scale their businesses. BanQu is now scaling its relationship with AB InBev, expanding to other geographies and into other areas of focus including recycling.
We were blown away by the founders of BanQu and their mission. Ashish Gadnis and Jeff Keiser are repeat entrepreneurs, with a previous exit under their belts. They’ve worked together before (and had a successful exit together), and are back at it with BanQu. Ashish has 27 years of experience in global business solutions, technology deployments, startups and social enterprise in extreme poverty / conflict zones. He’s worked in and lived on 5 continents. Jeff has an equal amount of experience running businesses, with a focus on operations. He’s worked in large consulting firms, large corporations and startups. He’s seen and done it all.
We couldn’t be more excited to have an opportunity to invest in BanQu and support the founders, Ashish and Jeff, in their mission to eliminate poverty for the people responsible for sourcing the raw materials needed for many of the goods we, in developed countries, enjoy every day from cell phones to coffee to beer.
BanQu is now in over 15 countries reaching hundreds of thousands of people at the bottom of the supply chain, working with brands that are dedicated to delivering great products to consumers via responsible sourcing. Through technology, a great founding team, an incredible mission, and the commitment of corporates, like AB InBev, to collaborate with a startup, BanQu has the potential to change the world like few do. We’re excited to put our support behind them. With AB InBev alone, BanQu is now reaching over 10,000 farmers across Africa and India, and running pilots with recyclers in Africa and South America. AB InBev has seen significant benefits from working with BanQu, including more accurate forecasting of agricultural purchases, input tracking for seeds, machinery and fertilizer, glass bottle visibility, and price transparency to farmers/bottle pickers, which improves the overall supply chain efficacy considerably.
Our goal now is to help BanQu achieve its mission. Every startup needs support from its investors and partners with access to new corporate clients, investors, talent and more. As BanQu moves to the next stage in its growth, Highline Beta will be there to lend a helping hand, open up its network and provide advice wherever necessary.
And today, we’re in the midst of our second 100+ Sustainability Accelerator cohort, with 17 startups that are all working to solve local and global issues in water stewardship, circular packaging, smart agriculture and climate action. We know there are going to be incredible opportunities for these startups to scale with AB InBev and prove that corporate-startup collaboration can work.