The three-month accelerator program is set to support eleven Kenyan women and youth-led agribusinesses towards the investment of up to USD 100,000 to scale their businesses.
The accelerator program which was launched in July is a project commissioned by GIZ Make-IT in Africa, a project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by iBizAfrica, Strathmore University’s business incubator and Pangea Accelerator (a Norwegian based accelerator and an investment platform operating in East Africa that matches African start-ups with investors), foundations and development agencies to reach a global scale.
FoodTech Africa is an accelerator program aimed at addressing food security through fostering innovation. The project is commissioned by GIZ Make-IT in Africa, a project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by iBizAfrica -Strathmore University and Pangea Accelerator.
The program is designed to support women and youth-owned growth stage agri-based companies (start-ups that are in post-revenue i.e. have sales and customers) to sustain business growth through facilitating access to financing, business support and technology adoption.
The competitive application process saw the accelerator receive over 420 applicants in Kenya according to Linda Kwamboka, entrepreneur-in-residence and iBizAfrica’s Manager.
She added that “we received over 700 applications, some across Africa and 424 Kenyan applicants. This proves our hypothesis that there are plenty of innovators in the agriculture sector. The diversity in agribusiness sub-sectors has been well represented- ranging from credit access to food manufacturing. We are also grateful for the support of ecosystem players including Viktoria Ventures, Luminate Group who have supported the shortlisting process.”
Joining its first cohort, the ten businesses will undergo mentorship and coaching as well as investor readiness as they begin the process of investor matching.
Speaking after their selection, Dysmus Kisilu, Co-Founder of Solar Freeze, a post-harvest solution for smallholder farmers remarked, “we are excited to be part of the Food Africa Accelerator which offers a chance for a start-ups like ours to collaborate, grow and shape the new vision of a food secure Africa through youth-led innovation.”
Jonas Tesfu, Co-Founder and CEO for Pangea Accelerator also added, “we believe Kenya and East Africa are at a critical time and that innovation and young entrepreneurs have a big role to play in creating resilient and local food systems.”
The accelerator comes at a time when the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture has vowed to sustain ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector in order to boost production and bring value to farmers.
Further, it also comes after a recent report by the Kenya Food Security 2019 Steering Group revealed that approximately 1.3 million people in Kenya are currently facing a crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity, which has been further exacerbated by Covid-19 and the locust plague. Tracy Weru, Program Coordinator for GIZ Make-IT in Africa stated, “we are happy with the traction this program has received so far and are looking forward to supporting the 11 start-ups.”
The eleven selected start-ups joining the accelerator are;
IFarm360 – A digital crowd farming platform that brings together farmers, investors and markets to enable farming as a business.
SolarFreeze– A pioneering start-up providing mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy for rural smallholder farmers to help them reduce the huge challenge of post-harvest loss.
Shamba Records– A distributed ledger that runs on Blockchain technology and uses big data and artificial intelligence to collect farmer’s data and process payments to farmers.
Ecodudu– a waste-to-value company that uses a proprietary innovation to recycle organic waste into high-protein animal feed and organic fertilizer using the black soldier fly.
Faina Innovation – a company that has developed a farm sanitation product (Solarbag®) for the management of fruit fly and other pests. The product is also used for rapid on-farm production of compost fertilizer and soil sterilization.
Mhogo Foods – The company adds value to the cassava tubers by processing them into affordable, nutritious gluten-free flour, cassava crisps, cassava starch and cassava-based animal feeds.
Digicow – a record-keeping mobile application for both smallholder and enterprise farmers engaged in dairy farming enabling them to increase their profits through data-driven decision making.
Mula Exports – a grower and exporter of fresh produce (fruits and veggies) in Kenya. The company also contracts small scale farmers to complement production and raise living standards by providing the smallholders with a ready market for their produce.
Origen Group – are producers of high-quality cold-pressed avocado oil made from the finest grown hass and fuerte Kenyan avocados for the export market.
Taste Afrique – are manufacturers of Chibundiro, a mixture of grounded natural spices to enhance nutritional value for consumers.
FreshPro Farms – a data-driven agribusiness consumer demand for fresh produce with farmers production capacity creating a seamless business model devoid of the waste and inefficiency associated with agriculture.