Six Kenyans have advanced to the final pitch of the African Development Bank (AfDB) sponsored competition dubbed AgriPitch and now stand a chance to walk away with as much as Kshs 4 million in grant to grow their ventures.
The six who are among 25 finalists from 12 African countries include Solar Freeze, a start-up based in Kenya which has been nominated under Start-up category to battle it out with 9 other nominees for the cash prize.
The start-up seeks to cut post-harvest losses by providing mobile cold storage units which use solar energy to smallholder famers in rural Kenya who are often not connected to the national power grid or are disadvantaged by high electricity charges.
Lack of cold storage facilities has been cited as a major contributor to post-harvest losses in Africa estimated at 80% of crops produced whereas the continent’s food import bill exceeds Kshs. 3 trillion annually according to agronomists.
“We hope that the recognition will help us gain more partners who will help in our quest for reducing post-harvest losses in Kenya and East Africa,” said Dysmus Kisilu, CEO Solar Freeze.
The Mature Start-up category will see four Kenyan firms battle it out with six other agripreneurs before the AfDB panel for a chance to land themselves capital and access trainings from experts in order to grow their solutions.
The four firms include Bee Happy Enterprise Limited, Herdy Limited, Lentera Limited and Stawi Limited.
Only one woman empowered business from Kenya, Mhogo Foods, advanced to the final under the Women Empowered Business category.
Under the theme of “Driving Sustainable Nutrition and Gender Inclusivity in Africa’s Agri-Food Systems: Youth Agripreneurs Seize the Decade,” the African Development Bank has lined up $120,000 (Kshs. 12.9 million) in seed funding for winners who will also access training among other benefits.
“It is encouraging to see that almost 62% of all AgriPitch 2020 applicants self-described as being women-led businesses or having women make up at least 50% of their management,” said Wambui Gichuri, AfDB Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.
AgriPitch organizers received more than 2,500 applications and evaluated 605 proposals from 30 countries in which the 25 who are under the age of 35 made it to the final round of selling their ideas to a panel with the hope of getting the much-needed funding.
“In this two-week-long business development boot camp, AgriPitch competitors can attend virtual sessions on product development, revenue channel identification, logistics, marketing, business management, investment readiness, financing and other issues, led by trainers and coaches,” said Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the AfDB’s Enable Youth Programme.
Best solutions stand a chance to walk away with between Kshs. 1 million and Kshs. 4 million in the final slated for 17th November.