The founder of a cassava processing company in Kenya, a co-founder of a new food processing technology company, and the owner of a small farm food procurement company in Nigeria won the best cash prizes in the $ 120,000 AgriPitch competition won by the African Development Bank. Tuesday.
The AgriPitch competition offered young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Africa the opportunity to present their agribusiness proposals to a panel of experts and investors who selected winners in the categories of ‘early start’, ‘adult enterprises’ and ‘women empowered’. ‘.
“I was so excited when I heard my name [called], ”Said Elizabeth Gikebe, founder of Mhogo Foods in Kenya, which won the $ 20,000 prize for women-empowered businesses. Gikebe says that its Mhogo Foods – a company that adds value to the production of cassava by processing tubers into gluten-free flour, cassava snacks and animal feed – in 2018 and again in 2019, without success. She says she’s glad she didn ‘t give up.
“With a lot of endurance, you can get what you’re looking for. It showed me that everything has its time,” Gikebe said.
AgriPitch practically held, and more than 2,500 applications and 605 proposals from 30 countries were shortlisted on 25 finalists from 12 countries. The finalists qualified themselves for a two-week start-up camp for business development, after which a top 9 AgriPitch competitors made their final pitch for an online panel of judges and investors.
“Being selected from such a qualified list of businesses is always exciting,” represented Ikenna Nzewi, the winner of the early start category. Aflos, a technological enterprise for food processing. Founded by Nigerian-American graduates from MIT, Yale and Duke universities who started in Uyo, Nigeria, Releaf plans to save the $ 20,000 competition prize for future investment.
“We are very confident about the work we are doing to catalyze industrialization in food processing. It is excellent to have the African Development Bank with its High 5s focus – one of which is industrialization – to support us as well, ‘Nzewi added.
The winner of the $ 40,000 Adult Business Category Award, Foodlocker Femi Aiki, CEO, said the seed financing provides a large amount of fuel for the business. Foodlocker supports smallholder farmers with technologies for the production of food such as tomatoes and chicken.
Aiki said one of the key areas where Foodlocker needs support is working capital. “Now we can afford to buy more input. We can now afford to bring in more experts in the value chains who can support small farmers remotely … This money will support the company to achieve results,” he added.
The AgriPitch competition was part of the Bank’s fourth African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF) – one of the continent’s most exciting platforms for African youth in the agricultural scene – which started with weekly webinars on 3 November and ended with the AgriPitch winners. ‘ceremony.
“The Bank’s Enable Youth program aims to empower young people at every stage of the value chain for agribusinesses by making use of new and innovative skills, technologies and funding approaches, so that the youth can establish viable and profitable small and medium-sized enterprises, said Edson Mpyisi. , Coordinator of the Bank’s Activate Youth Program responsible for the event.
In Africa, small and medium-sized enterprises account for 90% of all enterprises and create 70% of all jobs and are the driving force for economic growth and long-term sustainability.
“Through the AgriPitch competition, the Bank is committed to supporting young people who are ambitious, creative, technologically proficient, and who have the entrepreneurial spirit to establish profitable small and medium-sized businesses for a prosperous and inclusive Africa,” Mpyisi added.
In collaboration with partners, including UN Women, African Leaders for Nutrition and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa Initiative (AFAWA), this year AYAF and AgriPitch competition awarded the winner and runner-up prizes as follows:
Winner: Femi Aiki, Foodlocker, Nigeria ($ 40,000)
Runner-up: Noel N’guessan, Lono, Ivory Coast ($ 20,000)
Businesses empowered by women
Winner: Elizabeth Gikebe, Mhogo Foods, Kenya ($ 20,000)
Runner-up: Oluwaseun Sangoleye, Baby Grubz, Nigeria ($ 10,000)
Winner: Ikenna Nzewi, Releaf, Nigeria ($ 20,000)
Runner-up: David Matsiko, Bringo Fresh, Uganda ($ 10,000)
In addition to receiving seed funding and mentorship prizes after the competition, AgriPitch winners will also be invited to the AYAF online DealRoom, which connects expansion-ready, youth-led African businesses with world investors.
Watch the final AYAF webinar and AgriPitch final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=838h796vlDc&feature=youtu.be
Alphonso Van Marsh, Agriculture, Human and Social Development Complex, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aoudi Diallo Alcassoum, Department of Communications and External Relations, e-mail: email@example.com