Heifer International’s $1.5M agritech challenge winners announced

Three African startups have been selected winners of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge which supports agritech innovators and is organized by Heifer International.

The three startups ThriveAgric of Nigeria, Kenya’s DigicCow and Botwana-based Brastorne Enterprises have all built technologies to improve agricultural practices and production.

The competition was launched in 2021, challenging African youths to bring innovations that provide positive disruption that’s useful to farmers.

Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa Programs at Heifer International said, “At a time when Africa is facing unprecedented food-related challenges, it is incredibly inspiring to see these young African champions firmly focused on an agriculture-led future that provides farmers with the innovations they need to succeed.”

Nigeria’s ThriveAgric addresses the lack of access to finance, technical advice, business skills, and market opportunities. The company has a team of 2,000 field agents that support nearly 500,000 farmers across 22 Nigerian states with insights that help them improve production and profits.

Nairobi-based DigiCow is helping small-scale African dairy operations increase productivity with technology that provides free access to livestock management experts and links farmers to skilled and qualified veterinarians, artificial insemination providers and feed supply services—all from their mobile phones.

Botwana’s Brastorne Enterprise uses technology to give farmers access to farming information, markets and short-term finance using the capabilities of any feature phone, such as SMS and interactive voice technology.

The Brastorne mobile service Mpotsa (“Ask me”) provides rural unconnected mobile users with localized information, and Vuka harnesses USSD technology to allow users on any phone to create profiles, add friends, create chat groups, and more.   These technologies have helped farmers realize a 250% increase in yields and achieve 85% savings in communication and information access. The company also boasts 100% youth employment.

The three companies will receive a sizeable monetary investment: a total of USD 1.5 million in grants, along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisers—accomplished business veterans—to help them translate their funding into an aggressive expansion strategy.

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Simon W Nderitu

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