Recognizing the need to make the agricultural sector attractive for the Youth, Generation Africa organized an agripreneur challenge for young people from across the African continent. The challenge brought together eleven young agriculture entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas to a high profiled audience.
Unemployment is a prodigious issue in Africa, mostly among the youth in the various academic fields. However, Africa is one of the well – endowed continents in the world with all the natural resources one can think of, including very rich arable land. Agriculture has proven to be the solution of Africa’s twin problem of unemployment and hunger, yet the sector receives the least attention particularly among the youth.
To change the narrative, there is a need to make the agriculture sector attractive to the youth to save the sector from dying and employ all resources in terms of human, technological and financial resources into the sector.
It is against this backdrop that Generation Africa, whose vision is to grow a movement for supporting millions of young agripreneurs across the continent to transform Africans food security and prosperity, introduced GoGettaz Agripreneur competition with the theme; A Partnership Initiative Bringing the Dynamism of Youth Entrepreneurship to Africa’s Agri-food Sector to support budding agricultural entrepreneurs with excellent ideas.
The pitching day.
The contest took place in Accra, Ghana on 3rd September 2019 at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) meeting at Accra International Conference Center, with a high-level panel of global and pan-African business and Agricultural Sector as the judges.
All the participants articulated their concepts on innovation in the Agrifood sector, market potential, and traction; impact on the society or the environment, their business models in respect to the scalability and financial sustainability.
To grace the event with entertainment, special UN IFAD Ambassador, Mr. Eazi had the crowd on their feet, including Generation Africa co Svein Tfounders, ore Holsether, CEO of Yara International and Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman of Econet Global (and outgoing Chair of AGRA).
The grand finale of the Africa Food Prize Gala Dinner and awards ceremony was held on 4th September 2019, at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The two winners of the US $100,000 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize (one man and one woman) were announced, along with the winners of the prestigious Africa Food Prize.
At the end of the contest, Isaac Sesi of Sesi Technologies Limited, Ghana and Bonolo Month of Maungo Craft in Botswana emerged winners for male and female respectively. The winners received US$50, 000.00 each as the grand prize to expand their Agribusinesses.
Message from the award winners and the judges.
Isaac Sesi, of Sesi Technologies Ltd, is an entrepreneur and engineer. His business concept is GrainMate. According to him, smallholder farmers along the grain value chain regularly lose up to forty percent of their harvest due to post-harvest losses.
He said that the significant cause of these losses is due to lack of an affordable, effective way to measure the moisture content in grains before storage leading to the growth of mould and invasion of insects which destroy the grains. As a result of this situation, he developed a device called GrainMate, to help reduce post-harvest losses by making it easy for farmers to measure the moisture content in their grains before storage.
Speaking to Agric Today Media, Isaac Sesi said he is very excited and that even though he was optimistic, he never believed he could win the grand prize. He said that out of the 3,000 people that applied he has emerged as the male winner. He promised to scale up his production of the GrainMate to provide affordable service to the smallholder farmers in Africa.
Bonolo Month, the female award winner from Botswana, described her excitement as a fulfilment of her dreams to revolutionize the oil industry by turning the wasted fruits into the oil. She added that the wasted fruit is a bottleneck that prevents the growth of the indigenous oil industry in Botswana, this urged her to come out with the technology to deal with that wastage.
Speaking to one of the judges, Rodgers Kirwa, founder and CEO of iAgribiz, he applauded the participants for their innovations and their innovative solutions in the agricultural sector. He advised the youth to come out with their innovative ideas and start small irrespective of their startup capital.
According to him, what is impeding the young individuals to go into Agriculture is finance and acquisition of farmland. He noted that as Kenyan, is very difficult for the youth to get land to farm on. ‘Young people do not have lands to farm on and getting land is very difficult. This is very disturbing and it is preventing most of our youth to go into Agriculture. I am pleading to our custodians of the lands to assist the youth to get access to lands for farming’, he pleaded.
The eleven participants from the ten African countries are;
Leah Bessa, Gourmet Grubb, South Africa
Steven Betcha, Ngomalands, DR Congo
Piwai Chikasha, Alley Capital Group, Zimbabwe
Starlin Farah, Ecodudu Limited, Kenya
Bertin Fokou, Distribution Express (DITEX), Cameroon
Bonolo Monthe, Maungo Craft, Botswana
Lilian Nakigozi, Women Smiles, Uganda
Job Oyebisi, FarmCorps, Nigeria
Siny Samba, Le Lionceau, Senegal
Isaac Sesi, Sesi Technologies Limited, Ghana
Afflong Williams, Reelfruit, Nigeria.
Generation Africa is a partnership initiative bringing the dynamism of youth to Africa’s agri-food sector. Co-catalysed by Yara International and the Econet Group in early 2019, the Generation Africa movement aims to build on the efforts of other leading institutions to work collaboratively to strengthen the ecosystem that supports young agripreneurs across the continent on their journey from idea to scale.