Youth-led, African Agribusinesses Announced as Pitch AgriHack 2021 Winners

African agritech innovators win cash awards to grow and scale their businesses in the seventh Pitch AgriHack competition.

Nairobi, Kenya: Six youth-led agribusinesses showcasing market-ready innovations for African farmers – which include mobile crop processing machinery, produce delivery services and e-commerce and farm financing platforms – won a share of the US$45,000 Pitch AgriHack 2021 competition today at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

The companies, which now have an opportunity to attract new investments via the AGRF Agribusiness Deal Room, were competing in three categories: Early-stage, Mature/Growth-stage, and Women-led.

In a fourth, invitation-only category, known as the AYuTe Africa Challenge, US$1.5 million in grants were awarded to two youth-led agritech businesses that are increasing access to emerging technologies for smallholder farmers across Africa to grow their businesses and incomes.

The Pitch AgriHack competition, aimed exclusively at youth-led African businesses bringing technological innovation to the agriculture sector, is sponsored by Heifer International and hosted by Generation Africa, a thematic platform of the AGRF.

The youth of Africa have a crucial role to play in our continent’s food and farming future. Food systems change is one of the most pressing global issues as humanity negotiates a new balance with the natural world amidst the undeniable impacts of climate change,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA and Special Envoy to the UN Food Systems Summit. “Pitch AgriHack is a wonderful initiative that awards youth-led innovative agricultural businesses. At the intersection of technology and agriculture, new innovations have the capacity to enable and uplift smallholder farmers, and drive agricultural transformation across Africa.

The Pitch AgriHack Winners for 2021:

The winners of the three open competition categories are:

Early-Stage category:

Winner – Jeffrey Appiagyei of SAYeTECH Company Limited in Ghana. Jeffrey’s company designs and manufactures climate-smart agricultural machinery that increases productivity of smallholder farmers. https://www.sayetech.io/

Runner-up – Gabriel Eze of Rural Farmers Hub in Nigeria. Gabriel’s company provides agricultural services with a core product, called Capture™. https://ruralfarmershub.com/

Mature- and Growth-Stage category:

Winner – Mahmud Johnson of J Palm in Liberia. Mahmud’s company has created innovative labour-saving technology for Liberia’s smallholder farmers, helping them to produce wild palm oil more profitably and efficiently, while not contributing to deforestation or animal habitat destruction. https://kernelfreshpremium.com/

Runner-up – Gladys Amiandamhen of Farmcrowdy Limited in Nigeria. Farmcrowdy has developed a technology ecosystem called Farmgate with various innovative software products, to help farmers maximize their output and increase their profits. https://www.farmcrowdy.com/

Women-led Agribusiness category:

Winner – Ore Alemede of GrowAgric in Kenya. Ore’s company provides a full technology end-to-end solution that optimizes the entire agriculture value chain, providing small and medium-scale farmers with training, marketing linkages and accessible working capital. https://growagric.com/

Runner-up – Nomaliso Musasiwa of Fresh In A box in Zimbabwe. Nomaliso’s company offers an innovative e-commerce platform that connects smallholder and urban farmers of fresh local produce as well as other food products with customers locally and globally enabling payments to be made from anywhere in the world, an important feature linking diaspora family members with loved ones at home. https://freshinabox.co.zw/

Winners of the Invite-Only AYuTe Africa Challenge run by Heifer International:

Pitch AgriHack and the AYuTe Africa Challenge support youth-led technological innovation in the agriculture sector. We believe that the agricultural sector has the potential to provide future jobs for Africa’s growing youth population, while advancing the continent’s food security agenda,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President for Africa Programs at Heifer International.

The Pitch AgriHack 2021 winners will receive continued support as they develop and grow their enterprises. Individual profiles have been made public on the genafrica.org platform and reviewed for relevance to their investor community.

Nearly 600 business owners from 37 African countries applied to the competition. Countries represented at the finals at the AGRF Summit were Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Generation Africa is proud to be the host of Pitch AgriHack 2021. Competitions like this, and the entrepreneurial communities that are shaped around them, give young agripreneurs access to the tools and expertise they need to make their businesses successful,” said Head of Generation Africa, Dickson Naftali.

A seasoned panel of food systems experts with extensive experience across the African agrifood and technology sectors served as judges.

“Seeing the ideas that are coming from young entrepreneurs across Africa makes me very excited about the future of agriculture on our continent,” said Ebunoluwa Bolodeoku, Head of Business Transformation for Africa at Heifer International, and Pitch AgriHack judge.

The judges for the 2021 Pitch AgriHack competition were:

  • Ebunoluwa Bolodeoku – Head Transformation, Africa – Heifer International
  • Elisée Kamanzi – Country Director, Rwanda, Heifer International
  • William Matovu – Country Director, Uganda, Heifer International
  • Ken Lohento – Digital Innovation Strategy Consultant, FAO
  • Nixon Gecheo – Senior Program Officer – Digital Systems & Solutions for Agriculture, AGRA
  • Barbra Muzata – Communications and Brand Leader, Africa Middle East – Corteva Agriscience
  • Grace Vuhya Obeda – Principal Youth Employment Expert at African Development Bank
  • Hafou Touré-Samb – SME Development and Finance Specialist also from African Development Bank

ABOUT HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

For 77 years, Heifer International has worked with more than 36 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. Working with rural communities across Africa for 47 years, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income. For information, visit https://www.heifer.org.

ABOUT GENERATION AFRICA

Generation Africa is a thematic platform of the AGRF, whose mandate is to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across Africa. From its start in 2019, Generation Africa has brought together industry leaders, government institutions, NGOs, NPOs, and community platforms to collaborate on ecosystem development, curation and support of agribusinesses, research and advocacy, and the inspiration of young people to embrace opportunities in the agrifood sector. Find out more at https://genafrica.org.

ABOUT THE AGRF

The AGRF is the world’s premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward. Under AGRF’s current strategy, the Forum is particularly focused on driving progress of the Malabo Declaration by 2025 as the priority set of commitments African Heads of State and Government have made to strengthen agricultural development at the centre of the continent’s overall development and progress. The AGRF is organized by the AGRF Partners Group, a coalition of institutions that care about Africa’s agriculture transformation. For more information visit https://agrf.org.

Contact: Jane Machigere

jane@jsmcommunications.comwww.genafrica.org

Growth and Opportunities in African Agritech

Agricultural technology is extensive. Agritech can be as complex as an actual farm robot, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, to plant, water, and weed your grow beds. Or it can be as simple as a USSD code that lets a rural farmer access this week’s weather forecast and planting advice on a 15-year-old cell phone.

With global attention on the drastic need for food systems change, all eyes are on agritech to provide solutions. This has led to a flood of opportunities and incredible growth in the sector in recent years.

Growth in African Agritech

Africa is booming. According to research done by Microsoft, reported in Farmers Review Africa, “Between 2016 and 2019, the sector grew by 44% year-on-year and the continent has registered the highest number of agritech services in the developing world, reaching over 33 million smallholder farmers to date.”

Even considering the effects of the pandemic on world economies, the AgFunder 2021 report found that global agrifood technology companies raised more than US$30 BILLION in investment during 2020. And in Africa, investments in agritech companies grew by 23.7% in 2020 reports Business Daily Africa.

Why the Growth?

The challenges faced by food systems in Africa are numerous. And challenges mean opportunities. But African food systems aren’t the only ones that need a refresh. Globally there is a mass movement to rethink the way we produce food to be beneficial for the planet and for people.

Discovering fresh Africa-centric solutions to guide struggling communities out of poverty and into a food secure future, will set an example for global food systems change.

The real test for agritech will be whether it can help farmers and the agri-food value-chain build resilience.

Resilience against shocks

Agritech is “increasingly playing a crucial role in cushioning small-scale farmers against the crop-damaging effects of climate change and the economic pain of the pandemic,” says a recent article by Thompson Reuters Foundation.

The piece highlights how Kenyan farmer Wesley Lang’at made the switch to phone-assisted farming to access inputs, financing, and weather information. This move allowed him to reinvent his small farming business to be more profitable despite the pandemic.

Across Africa, digital platforms offering market linkages have seen a spike in users since the start of the pandemic. Farmers are searching for customer who will pay a fair price. They are trying to maximise their income without losing their hard-earned profit to middlemen.

This definitive shift in farming behaviours has been noticed.

Eyes on Africa

A recent Mckinsey report found that, “In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 400 digital agriculture solutions are in use, including applications in financial services, market linkages, supply-chain management, advisory and information services, and business intelligence.”

Additionally, “the Ireland government has declared Africa a key partner with which it wants to collaborate on sustainable food production and technology development,” states an Engineering News article.

The wheels have been set in motion. More funding opportunities like Pitch AgriHack, and the Ayute Africa challenge, sponsored by Heifer International, are incentivising young African women and men to bring their solutions to market.

Increasing productivity, increasing incomes, and creating an environment that allows a sustainable primary production value-chain to flourish, is what agritech is all about.

The future and the opportunities belong to the young African agritech entrepreneurs who positively impact real outcomes for farmers.

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info@genafrica.org 

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