Michael Ocansey, a computer science specialist, and Francis Obirikorang, a chemical engineer, developed the online platform, AgroCenta, won CTA’s 2017 Pitch AgriHack initiative, which gives youth entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop their business services and accelerate the adoption of their services. In an interview with CTA, Ocansey talks about AgroCenta – which links small-scale farmers and farmer organisations in Ghana with a big online market to improve the prices they receive for their commodities.Read More
Pitch AgriHack, which aims to accelerate youth-led e-agriculture entrepreneurship for improved livelihoods and food security, unveiled the winners of the 2016 pitching event. The announcement was made during an award ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, on 24 November 2016.
The competition was hotly contested with 25 finalists, selected out of 152 e-agriculture startups from across Africa and the Caribbean. Before the announcement of winners, finalists benefited from a training boot camp on 22 November at Ihub Nairobi, focused on offering successful business services in e-agriculture. The finalists were also coached on how to pitch effectively. On 23 November, they presented their services publicly before a jury and an audience composed of agriculture and ICT experts and institutions, including venture capitals. The panel of judges consisted of McKenzie Slaughter, from Prohaus VC (venture capital firm, United States); Niraj Varia, from Novastar Ventures (venture catalyst firm, East Africa), Hervé Pillaud, from the Vendée Chamber of Agriculture (France) and Agreenstartup (agriculture startup competition); Jermaine Henry, from Devlabs (venture capital firm, Americas), Ralph von Kaufmann, from Hakika Ltd (UK), and Peris Bosire from FarmDrive (startup, Kenya).
Pitch AgriHack 2016 was organised by CTA in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the support of partners including the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI) and mLab East Africa.
Grants to enhance and scale up services offered to farmers
Four startups were selected as official winners: three in the early stage category and one in the advanced stage category.
From left to right: Sheilah Birgen (mLab), Charles Batte (Mobfit, winner), Jermaine Henry (Devlabs, judge), Awa Caba (Sooretul, winner), Peris Bosire (FarmDrive, judge), Ralf von Kaufmann (Hakika, Judge), Naledi Magowe (mAgri, winner), Mansour Fall (Daral Technologies, winner), Ken Lohento (CTA) and McKenzie Slaughter (Prohaus VC, judge).
Early stage category
Winner: Brastorne Enterprises (Botswana), with the mAgri platform: it is a USSD application that gives farmers access to relevant information and to a mobile marketplace. mAgri can be used on any phone including basic feature phones. Currently, the application has about 150,000 users.
First Runner Up: Daral Technologies (Senegal) - Daral is a livestock application. Its web component helps collect and visualise data regarding farmers and their livestock while providing an advisory service platform for farmers. Its mobile component consists of an SMS-based alert system. Daral has been collaborating with the government of Senegal.
Second Runner Up: MobFit (Uganda) - MoBFiT is a GSM-supported agricultural supply chain software, ambitioning to directly connect 20 million smallholder rural farmers in Uganda to buyers in the market at a low cost via SMS and automated voice call technology. Mobfit collaborates with Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) and the Uganda National Farmers' Federation (UNFFE).
Advanced stage category
Winner: Sooretul (Senegal) - Sooretul is a web and mobile marketplace for agricultural processed products offered by women. The platform ensures a better access of rural women offerings to the urban demand. Customers buy online and can be delivered at home. Current partners include Orange Senegal, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Eiffage.
The winners will receive from CTA a cash prize of:
- €15,000 - Winner, Advanced Stage Category
- €7,500 - Winner, Early Stage Category
- €6,000 - First Runner Up, Early Stage Category
- €5,000 - Second Runner Up, Early Stage Category
These grants will be used to better deploy and scale up the services offered.
Additional winners and prizes from partners
In addition, winners will benefit from promotional opportunities and other benefits, including investments facilitated by CTA. They will thus benefit from the following services and resources provided by Prohaus VC, one of the partners of Pitch AgriHack:
- 2 months complimentary to Founder Pro Membership - (digital tools, startup ratings report, mentor sessions)
- One complimentary remote accelerator or workcation program
- Prohaus VISA cards (issued for free)
- Seed capital from Prohaus Capital between $10,000 - 20,000
Prohause VC gave additional prizes to startups whose business models they found to be promising. These include Kuza from Kenya, AgroCenta from Ghana and FarmAfriQue from Nigeria. These three startups are also recipients of the above-mentioned benefits.
Other partners pledged support to the winners and finalists. The African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN), represented by the Director of its funds, Mrs Adebakin Abimbola, promised to liaise with incubators in the countries where the startups are located and provide mentorship and incubation to all 25 finalists. DevLabs, a venture capital active in Chile, Jamaica, Colombia, Honduras and California also promised support.
Prizes and trophies were handed out by Mr Enock Yanozi, representative of the AfDB, Honourable Vincent Sagwe from the Ministry of Agriculture of Kenya and Peris Bosire, the representative of FarmDrive, as well as some of the partners mentioned above.
Ken Lohento, coordinator of the Pitch AgriHack initiative at CTA, warmly thanked, on behalf of CTA's Director, winners and all partners, particularly the AfDB whose financial support was instrumental for the organisation of the event. Follow-up initiatives are planned.