Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), under the AgriBiz programme on Monday 24th May 2021, virtually conducted the Vijana na AgriBiz semi-finals competition pitting 20 innovations from all over the country. The competition, which seeks to identify and reward innovative youth agripreneurs, selected ten agritech startups to proceed to the finals which will be held on May 31st 2021.
KCIC Group CEO Dr. Edward Mungai says that the competition is timely and will go a long way in building the capacity of the youth in the agricultural sector. He says that young farmers, especially in Kenya, need a platform to share their opinions and experiences, explore their agricultural potential and build their resilience as local agripreneurs.
“This competition aims to unlock the hidden potential of young agriprenuers by providing a platform for them to showcase their ideas. The competition also seeks to expose and link young innovators to target markets, foster their innovation in agricultural practices and offer them technical support to scale up their innovations,” says Dr. Edward, CEO KCIC Group.
The 20 participants were selected after successfully submitting innovative projects that could lead to social, environmental and economic benefits in the agriculture and agro-industry sectors. Earlier, in the previous week, the semi-finalists also underwent training through a boot camp process before pitching their innovations to the judging panel.
“Despite a tumultuous year, several youth agripreneurs envisioned how they could fill the gap in the agribusiness sector and related industries. These 20 innovators earned the opportunity, and we look forward to building long term relationships with them,” adds Dr. Edward.
After the semi-finalists rigorously pitching their innovations to business experts at the competition, the judges selected the ten promising businesses.
The ten promising businesses selected
Agri Hub Soko is an e-marketplace that helps source potatoes from smallholder farmers. The app not only helps the farmers market their produce but also makes it easier for them to share logistic costs.
Freshfarm links smallholding farmers and consumers to a fair and reliable market. The innovation looks forward to increasing profit margins by ensuring both buyers and sellers get access to fresh farm produce at a limited time.
Automated Greenhouse is an automated machine that will be controlled using an application.
Afri Agrimark is an application that brings all sellers into one market. The innovation is making it easier for farmers, sellers, suppliers, and transporters to get everything under one roof.
Call-Main Hatchery is a startup that sells solar-powered egg incubators. They mainly target marginalized communities.
Closed-Loop Agricultural System is a startup that is looking to have a closed-loop agricultural system that combines conventional aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment.
Mkulima na Website envisions a financing model that enables farmers to own personal websites.
Entobin is a black soldier self-harvesting bin that converts kitchen food waste into protein-rich animal feed and organic fertilizers.
The ten finalists are moving to the next stage to compete for the top prize of Ksh.1000,000 for the first position, with the second and third runner ups expected to receive Ksh.750,000 and Ksh.500,000 respectively. At the end of it all, the three successful startups will tap into the vast networks of the AgriBiz programme while receiving the relevant coaching that speaks to the needs of their businesses. The support will also enable the startups to move up the ladder from the seed level to the scaling stage.
“We plan to give the winners mentorship and financing to transform agriculture and accelerate their employment. The finalists will also receive financial management, attend investment readiness boot camp, receive grants and access to investments, capacity building, among others,” says Dr. Edward.
Since its inception in March 2020, the AgriBiz programme funded by the European Union (EU) and Danida has been analyzing the potential agricultural opportunities to improve youth engagement in agriculture. KCIC, therefore, decided to make agriculture more interesting by offering young farmers a voice.
One of the judges, Rebecca Amukhoye explains that the mix of businesses presented during this pandemic was fascinating- a bit of everything from new technology to new farming methods. She says that all the youthful innovations cannot be ignored despite only ten proceeding to the finals. “The presentations were of high standards taking into account the fact that we were all online. I look forward to the growth of all these promising businesses whether they were selected for further incubation or not.” The winners are expected to join the AgriBiz programme and tap into the vast networks that the program has to offer.