Pitch AgriHack is part of the AgriHack Talent initiative of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and aims at accelerating e-agriculture entrepreneurship for improved livelihoods in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Co-designed with young innovators and partners from ACP countries, it has included:
a) Competitions to develop ICT applications for agriculture (hackathons) when there is a need;
b) A start-up competition (called Pitch AgriHack) targeting young companies already offering e-agriculture services;
c) Capacity building, mentorship and incubation opportunities;
d) Promotional and networking opportunities;
e) Facilitation of access to grants and investments to scale-up services offered.
Beneficiaries have the opportunity to be involved in other CTA activities and those of its partners. Best start-ups involved so far have benefited from more than Euro 2 million (investment and grants from various national and international parties). Several hundreds of thousands of users (mostly farmers) have been reached by services provided through the use of applications developed by these start-ups. More than 1000 young entrepreneurs have taken part in the initiative so far and about 30 ICT hubs/incubators or institutions from about 20 countries have been involved. Other institutions involved include ministries in charge of ICT and agriculture, AfDB, AGRA, Suguba Africa, OCP Group, CARDI, SACAU, VC4Africa, Microsoft, ProHaus Group and Telesur, etc.
In the framework of the AfDB supported 2016 Pitch AgriHack, winners included Brastorne Entreprises of Botswana, which is reaching 500,000 users (farmers and other agricultural stakeholders) via its agricultural information and market platform mAgri, and Sooretul from Senegal (which is helping women cooperatives to sell their processed agricultural products). Other winners were Mobfit (Uganda) and Daral Technologies (Senegal).
In 2017, a regional edition, Pitch AgriHack West Africa, was organised in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the final was held at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF 2017) in Côte d’Ivoire. Six young e-agri startups were rewarded during this edition, including the Senegalese agri-financing and production platform Bayseddo which is offering intermediation services between agricultural land owners and people interested in investing in agriculture, AgroCenta (Ghana) which currently helps 10,000 farmers to access profitable markets and Aywajieune (Senegal), which facilitates the trade of fisheries via a market platform in Senegal. Others include E-farms (Nigeria), Farmart Ltd (Ghana) and ICT4Dev (Ivory Coast). The latter, as well as Aywajieune mentioned above, were rewarded by CTA’s partner Suguba (regional).
Other best start-ups include Ensibuuko (access to finance, Uganda), FarmDrive (access to finance, Kenya), Agrinfo (Tanzania), Crop Guard (Pest management, Barbados). The platforms of these four were created during CTA’s hackathons – and e-Agribusiness (agritrade facilitation, Togo).
Networking opportunities included the participation of start-ups at the AgriStartupSummit in France, participation in some AfDB events, in the European Development Days (EDD) or in the UNDP Social Good Summit. Two publications have been produced and are used in the network and beyond: Innovate for agriculture (in 2016, in collaboration with Ashoka) highlighting stories of 20 start-ups and ICT Agripreneurship Guide (2017), a guide to successful ICT entrepreneurship. A dedicated AgriHack Twitter account and mailing lists (in French and English), as well as the Facebook Page of the ARDYIS project (which gathers more than 100,000 followers), are used as networking platforms. Other organisations have now organised similar events based on our experience, sometimes requesting a franchise collaboration model.