Heifer International has today announced the 2022 winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge that supports Agritech innovators. The winners include ThriveAgric of Nigeria, Kenya’s DigiCow, and Brastorne Enterprises from Botswana.
The winning startups use digital tools to offer solutions to small-scale and large-scale farmers alike in the countries they operate. From ThriveAgric calling its breakthrough technology the Agriculture operating system, to DigiCow focusing on Livestock, below is a summary of the winning startups.
• Thrive Agric: is boosting farmer incomes and production with the agriculture operating system.
• DigiCow: uses digital tools to modernize production on small-scale dairy farms
• Brastorne Enterprises: develops digital technology for feature phones necessary for narrowing Africa’s rural digital divide.
According to Adesuwa Ifedi, the senior vice president of Africa programs, Heifer International. At this time when Africa is facing food-related challenges, it is inspiring for young African startup champions to focus on an agriculture-led future providing farmers with innovations they need.
Adding to that, Adesuwa noted that:
“We launched this competition in 2021, challenging African youths to bring us innovations poised to provide the positive disruption our farmers urgently need. ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne are more than ready to meet the moment,”Adesuwa Noted
As winners of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge, the startup trio will receive a sizeable monetary investment. This includes a total of USD 1.5 million in grants, along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisers, and accomplished business veterans that will help them translate their funding to working expansion strategies.
The awarding is part of Heifer International’s commitment to support young entrepreneurs developing affordable tech innovations as they work to scale their businesses. By that, it makes new services and technologies available to African farmers that leverage them to overcome long-standing challenges.
Additionally, this attracts a new generation to unlock the huge potential of agriculture on the continent, just like all three of the 2022 winners help African farmers by providing solutions to their everyday challenges.
In-depth solutions offered by the winning startups
ThriveAgric addresses a key challenge for small-scale farmers in Africa. The lack of access to finance, technical advice, business skills, and market opportunities affects most farmers across the continent.
To address this, Thrive Agric uses a proprietary Agriculture OS (operating system) to actively support over 500,000 across the 22 Nigerian states with insights that improve their production and profits. With a support team of 2,000 field agents that reach the farmers directly, Thrive Agric strives to increase farmer profitability as the CEO asserted.
“We’ve developed the technologies, strategies and partnerships we believe can build the largest network of productive, profitable farmers Africa has ever seen”said Uka Eje, Thrive Agric’s co-founder and CEO.
“ThriveAgric’s 500,000 farmers are already producing and earning much more than the average Nigerian farmer. Investors are responding to our potential and this prestigious award from Heifer International will accelerate our plans to expand across the continent.”Added Uka
DigiCow is helping small-scale African dairy operations increase productivity with technology that provides free access to livestock management experts. The startup links farmers to skilled, qualified veterinarians, artificial insemination providers, and feed supply services, all through their mobile phones.
According to one of the co-founders-Wanja, DigiCow is a solution built out of personal experiences with over 15 years of interaction with small-scale dairy farmers as she said.
“I grew up watching my mom struggle to get our cows to produce enough milk, and I’ve spent 15 years working with small-scale dairy farmers, so I know the challenges farmers face,”said Peninah Wanja, co-founder of Nairobi-based DigiCow.
“That’s why it’s been so exciting to see 60,000 farmers—many of them women—now using our DigiCow apps to become more profitable and productive. With this new support from Heifer International, I’m confident we can expand our reach to help small-scale dairy farmers across the continent.”Wanja Added
Brastorne’s apps, such as mAgri, give farmers access to farming information, markets and short-term finance using the capabilities of any feature phone. This is through default services 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 create profiles, add friends, create chat groups, and more.
These two technologies have helped farmers realize a 250% increase in their yields and achieve 85% savings in communication and information access. By recruitment, the Brastorne consists of 100% youth that are employed to run monitor, and support farmers using the two technologies.
“About 80% of Africans cannot afford smartphones or expensive data — but they do have feature phones, and Brastorne is ensuring those phones connect farmers, youth and women to the resources they need”said Martin Stimela, co-founder and CEO of Brastorne.
“We look forward to working with Heifer International to connect the rural poor with fair access to markets, information and community.”Added Martin
In summary, ThriveAgric, DigiCow, and Brastorne are a manifestation of Agritech startups in progress. With fresh funding, the trio of startups could soon expand from their home countries, and over services across the continent.