On Saturday, 8th September 2018, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) concluded a five-day Pitch AgriHack final, with the awarding of best startups in the presence of African heads of states and heads of governments, in Kigali, Rwanda. The initiative was conducted during the 2018 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), with the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Suguba Africa and with the collaboration of partners including Impact Hub Kigali.
All 26 finalists involved in the start-up competition (including 14 women-owned companies) participated on 04 and 05 September in a training on investment readiness and financial management organised in collaboration with Suguba Africa. The objectives of the training were to help finalist start-ups identify key limits of their financial management strategy and identify actions they need to put in place to better manage their finances, and improve their readiness to raise capital (grants, loans, equity investments, etc.) from potential investors and development organisations. The training involved more than 40 young start-ups and other partners, including 5 Tanzanians invited our partner East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, and other start-ups from Rwanda invited as special guests.
Awards were given on 8th September during the closing ceremony of the AGRF, after a presidential exchange session, in the presence of officials including: H.E. Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President, Republic of Ghana; H.E. William Samoei Arap Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya; H.E. Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, Prime Minister, Republic of Gabon.
The following four winners were announced in the early stage category:
- Illuminum Greenhouses Kenya, Kenya (€7500)
Illuminum Greenhouses™ Kenya is a farming solutions company providing affordable greenhouses equipped with solar powered sensors that automate irrigation; it therefore enables the Internet of Things (IoT) to penetrate and reach the base of pyramid farmers. So far, they have built about 1,200 greenhouses across East Africa, with 5,500 Smallholder farmers using their technology.
- Fenou Foods/Fenou Packaging, Benin (€7500)
The young company offers AgriPack, an online platform that allows agrofood stakeholders to find and buy the right packaging for their products. It offers a selection of biodegradable bags and advices young agripreneurs on how to pack food in an environmentally friendly way. The company also produces agro-processed food.
- Develop Digitally, Jamaica (€5000)
The startup offers Farm Credibly, a platform that allows unbanked farmers in Jamaica to easily access credit. By getting data from suppliers and distributors, a trusted and secure farmer profile is established. FarmCredibly empowers creditors with the means to reduce risk in issuing loans and insurance to farmers by leveraging Blockchain technology. They recently won an IBM hackathon.
- Farmignite Company, Nigeria (€5000)
Farmignite gives you the opportunity to fund a farm, empower small-scale farmers and share in the harvest. The system facilitates the aggregation of investors’ requests. Farm Ignite is helping to increase farm output, reduce food importation, and increase revenues for farmers and investors.
In the advanced stage category, the winners included:
- CowTribe Africa, Ghana (€15000)
Cowtribe is a cloud-based demand aggregation and last mile animal vaccine delivery management platform. On the client side, farmers can place orders for vaccines via a USSD platform or Android app. The system then aggregates these orders by zones and region for optimized deliveries. The mobile app allows service providers to receive job notifications, manage and optimize delivery tasks. More than 9,000 vaccine requests have been fulfilled.
- Agro Innova, Ghana (€15000)
AgroInnova offers “Akokotakra“, a mobile and web-based management software which helps poultry farmers to record, monitor and keep comprehensive records of their farm operations in real time, both online and offline. More than 100 poultry farms signed up on the platform three months after its launched and they are steadily generating revenues.
- Ankora Global Services, Nigeria (€12000)
With their product SmartFarm, Ankora Global Services provides commercial farming hub where busy professionals and beginning farmers can get access to land, modern farming facilities, professional management and market. They provide various ICT-enabled services including using drones. They have collaborated among others with the Central Bank of Nigeria to empower farmers.
- CLIN SARLU (e-agribusiness), Togo (€12000)
CLIN SARLU is an agricultural information system equipped with a call centre in local languages, a USSD, SMS, web and mobile applications. It enables farmers to find new markets for their products. It provides buyers with relevant information to facilitate their purchases. The start-up has just been selected to provide services to government projects in Togo and Côte d’Ivoire.
In addition to the above-mentioned prizes, Suguba Africa offered a special award to the best Francophone start-up led by a woman. The prize worth €2,500 was awarded to FENOU PACKAGING from Benin.
“Pitch AgriHack has been fantastic. First of all, just being in Kigali has been an eye-opening experience. Specifically, the investment readiness workshop has been extremely useful for us. We take home a lot of lessons and we will be certainly using them to keep propelling us forward; we’ll definitely make better use of funding having gone through this training” – said Varun Baker, CEO of Develop Digitally and winner of Pitch AgriHack 2018.
Prior to the announcement of results, the start-ups pitched their solutions to AGRF participants and a panel of judges on 06 September, in a very lively, fascinating and entertaining day. Before the pitching day, the entrepreneurs had the opportunity to attend a pitching training session delivered by Impact Hub Kigali. They learnt useful tips on how to structure their pitches and were able to practice and receive feedback from mentors and peers.
The 26 entrepreneurs highly valued the Pitch AgriHack experience as they had the opportunity to interact with other young entrepreneurs, network with potential investors and with high-level officials and agribusiness leaders.
“This was by far the best Pitch AgriHack final we have organised so far in three editions, said Ken Lohento Senior Programme Coordinator in charge of the activity at CTA. “With the theme of the competition focused on women entrepreneurs, we had over 50% of women finalists; we had an audience close to 3,000 AGRF participants and the quality of start-up services have much improved”. The start-ups will now benefit from various opportunity to grow, apart from cash prize won.
Pitch AgriHack 2018 is a competition that aims at accelerating e-agriculture entrepreneurship for improved livelihoods in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. It targets start-ups founded by young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 years. 325 start-ups applied initially. The finalists come from 9 different countries (Nigeria, Kenya, Benin, Uganda, Ghana, Jamaica, Togo, Suriname and Rwanda) and are both at early-stage and advanced-stage of their business development. Other partners involved in the organisation of the competition are Women in Tech Africa, Wennovation Hub (Nigeria), East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Jokkolabs (international), Impact Hub Bamako (Mali), Impact Dakar (Senegal), BongoHive, the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) and Yeesal AgriHub (Senegal).
Written by Impact Hub Kigali