CTA’s AgriHack Talent initiative aims to strengthen ICT innovation in agriculture, as well as to stimulate youth entrepreneurship. AgriHack is a key part of CTA’s focus on supporting youth involvement in agriculture and youth employment.
The unique approach of the AgriHack process aims to address the limited support for young e-agriculture (ICT4Ag) start-ups, including the lack of capacity building in business and financial management which is needed to develop the sustainable business models required for scaling up.
The AgriHack initiative has contributed to strengthening CTA’s positioning on youth entrepreneurship as well as its leadership in the ICT4Ag field, as recognised by many stakeholders. The initiative is being replicated in different countries with visibility for CTA. The next phase of the project will strengthen these achievements.
The ultimate objectives of the initiative are to help develop business services offered by young ICT4Ag start-ups, which will contribute to the transformation of agricultural value chains in ACP countries, improving productivity and market access in the agrifood sector.
Co-designed with young innovators and partners from ACP countries, the AgriHack Talent initiative has included:
- competitions to develop ICT applications for agriculture (hackathons) when there is a need;
- a start-up competition (Pitch AgriHack) targeting young companies already offering e-agriculture services;
- capacity building, mentorship and incubation opportunities;
- promotional and networking opportunities;
- facilitation of access to grants and investments to scale-up services offered.
Currently, CTA is no more supporting the development of new applications through hackathons, and focus on supporting existing platforms through Pitch AgriHack and its follow-up activities.
The initiative involves a boot camp followed by a the pitching competition for existing e-agriculture start-ups, providing those selected with opportunities to consolidate, pilot or upscale their platforms and services.
During the next phase of the project (2018-19), two further Pitch AgriHack international competitions will be held. In 2018, it will have a special focus on women entrepreneurs. In 2019, while being open to all ACP countries, Pitch AgriHack will have a special focus on Southern Africa, Central Africa and the Pacific as these regions have yet to benefit from a regional AgriHack activity and there is a strong demand from stakeholders. National Pitch AgriHack activities may be organised as a sub-activity of agribusiness development projects, as a means to identify start-ups that could offer services to stakeholders involved in those specific initiatives.
Three specific components of this Pitch AgriHack project includes:
- Support for the best participants from Pitch AgriHack 2016 and 2017 including:
- Completion of the mentoring by African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) of best 2016 start-ups
- Mentoring and networking opportunity for 2017 winners
- Organisation of the 2018 and 2019 Pitch AgriHack including logistics, grants, mentoring and networking opportunities.
- Documenting, sharing and promotion of results including a publication featuring stories of the best start-ups involved.
Up to 2018, some 700 young entrepreneurs have taken part in Pitch AgriHack and around 26 ICT hubs or institutions from 20 countries have been involved. Various public national and international institutions have been collaborating with the initiative so far, including the African Development Bank and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and Suguba Africa: these three institutions will be involved in the 2018 edition of the project as well. Since the launch of the AgriHack Talent initiative, at least 500,000 farmers and agricultural stakeholders have been reached by services provided through the use of applications developed and start-ups involved have raised more than about two million euros from other investors and partners.
As result of the 2018-19 phase of the project, a further 200 entrepreneurs will be reached and many more thousands of farmers will be impacted by the newly-supported start-up services.