Forty-six-year-old Karim Sy rejects the label of ‘incubator’, preferring to describe himself as a ‘serial entrepreneur’. Nevertheless, Jokkolabs, his non-profit organisation set up in Senegal in 2010, now has 12 hubs spread in Africa and Europe, and is trying to uncover the African entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Recently appointed to the Presidential Council for Africa by French President Emmanuel Macron, Sy has also been working for several years with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) through the AgriHack programme.Read More
Six youth start-ups, who were each awarded with investment, promotional support, capacity building and network opportunities after winning CTA's 2017 Pitch AgriHack! initiative are looking forward to the new opportunities that 2018, and continuing support from CTA and partners, will bring.
From the initial 130 e-agriculture start-ups led by entrepreneurs aged 18–35 who applied for the 2017 PitchAgrihack!, 25 were selected for the final round of the contest which took place during the African Green Revolution Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The six winners included two start-ups – eFarms and Farmart Ltd – both at an early stage of their business; two at a more advanced stage of development – Bayseddo and AgroCenta; and the best start-ups in Senegal and Ivory Coast, respectively – Aywajieune and ICT4Dev. The award grants, provided by CTA and its partner Suguba, ranged from €2,000 to €15,000.
Innovative ICTs developed by young entrepreneurs
The Senegalese agri-financing platform, Bayseddo, connects farmers who are in need of financing with investors looking to invest in agriculture. In 2018, CTA will support Bayseddo in various activities including improving their website, developing a complementary mobile app that will work offline, and helping to build their administrative capacity to deliver better services.
AgroCenta is an online marketplace for agricultural produce that allows small-scale farmers and farmer organisations in Ghana to access a wider online market outside of their immediate community. To date, more than 10,000 farmers are able to access market information through AgroCenta agents in order to achieve a fair price for their products, and access on-demand truck services in real time. During the next 12 months, the start-up will be supported by CTA to increase the number of farmers it services to 30,000, double the number of buyers and increase staff numbers to provide better coverage in its area of operation.
The Nigerian-based agri-financing and agri-training platform, eFarms, crowdsources funds from farm investors who supply quality seedlings and fertilisers to young smallholder farmers in different locations. CTA will support eFarms during 2018 to lease and cultivate at least 100 ha to 100 smallholder farmers across three locations in Nigeria, and provide 200 ‘graduate farmers’ with on-farm training in their chosen field of interest. CTA will also support the company to provide 50 ‘farmternships’ for students enrolled in higher education courses and raise at least 10 million Naira (€0.022 million) from a minimum of 50 farm-investors.
The fourth PitchAgrihack! winner was Farmart Ltd, an online platform which markets farmers’ fresh produce to consumers in Ghana by sourcing local produce from farmers every morning and delivering it to homes and businesses within 5 hours of orders being placed through the website. CTA will support the start-up to acquire a further 1,000 individual customers and 150 businesses by the end of 2018, as well as to help hire and train new staff members. In addition, Farmart intends to start exporting fresh foods to business partners outside Ghana.
CTA’s partner, Suguba, also awarded two special prizes to the best start-up in Senegal (Aywajieune) and Côte d’Ivoire (ICT4Dev). The €2,000 seed funding provided to these winners will allow the start-ups to expand their services.
Aywajieune is an online marketing platform for fish products, which facilitates transactions and directly connects buyers with fish sellers. Orders are collected by a home delivery service which is integrated with the platform and responsible for managing the logistics of all transactions. Meanwhile the virtual market provided by ICT4Dev is a web, mobile and SMS solution for linking sellers and buyers of agricultural products. The platform allows sellers to post offers via SMS while viewing requests sent by customers, and vice versa.
The PitchAgrihack! start-ups were all provided with additional documentation on business management and entrepreneurship. They will also have the opportunity to network with potential partners at upcoming international and regional events to further help them scale their agribusinesses. Moreover, these young start-up businesses will take part in other activities supported by CTA and partners throughout 2018.
Thanks to the partnership CTA has developed with French institutions working in this field, Bayseddo, AgroCenta, ICT4Dev and Aywajieune were able to participate in the 1st Agri Start-up Summit held during 22-24 November, 2017 at La-Roche-Sur-Yon, in France. At the event, the start-ups had the chance to broaden their network portfolio and meet potential investors and partners.
Pitch AgriHack! gives e-agriculture start-ups the opportunity to consolidate, pilot or upscale their platforms and services. The ultimate objective is to strengthen youth engagement in agriculture by helping to develop business services offered by young entrepreneurs, and accelerate the adoption of ICT4Ag by the agri-food sector in ACP countries.
For more information on upcoming events, or to exchange ideas about digital entrepreneurship opportunities in agriculture, visit the Pitch AgriHack! website or become a member of its Networking and Knowledge Sharing Platform where you can view further discussions and sharing opportunities.