New “Generation Africa” initiative to grow young entrepreneurs and transform Africa’s agri-food sector awards two US $50,000 prizes to agripreneurs hailing from Ghana and Botswana, at the Africa Food Prize Gala dinner at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra, Ghana.
Accra, Ghana, 12 September 2019 – Two young entrepreneurs, Isaac Sesi of Sesi Technologies (Ghana) and Bonolo Monthe of Maungo Craft (Botswana), have been named as winners in the inaugural $100,000 Generation Africa GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, a new competition to select two innovative ventures, one led by a man and one by a woman, who founded or co-founded businesses in the agri-food sector across Africa.
From an initial pool of nearly 3,000 online applicants from 39 African countries, the finalist ventures stood out for their comprehensive business ideas, inspiring pitch videos, and strong telephone interviews conducted by a panel of judges who looked specifically for 1) innovation; 2) market potential and traction; 3) impact (social and environmental); 4) business model (scalability and financial sustainability) and 5) management team and presentation.Sesi and Monthe were selected as winners from amongst top finalists drawn from 10 African countries.
Founded in 2017, Maungo Craft works with oil producers and communities to turn underused indigenous fruits of Botswana into gourmet low-to-no-sugar preserves. Monthe’s co-founders are Olayemi Aganga and Taunyane Motseoeme.
Monthe was inspired to start her business when she saw morula fruit rotting all around town, believing the abundant indigenous fruit was valuable. Morula was underused for the fruit whilst the oil was used by cosmetic companies. It takes approximately 300 tonnes of fruit to get 12 tons of oil, so, she remarked, “I thought to myself, what happens to all of this fruit?” She and her co-founders did research and discovered that the inability to use the fruit hampers the growth of the gourmet preserves industry, thus she founded Maungo Craft which has since won 10 awards and were the first food company from Botswana to display at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, and has many partnerships in progress for both local and export markets.
Sesi Technologies Limited is an agritech company, tackling poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa by empowering farmers and businesses along the agricultural value chain with affordable technologies (currently GrainMate and FarmSense) to help reduce losses, increase productivity, yield and profits. His co-founder is Joseph Akowuah. Isaac Sesi was recently named by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) 2019 Technology Review as one of the world’s top innovators under 35.
“Our solutions seek to reduce post-harvest losses in grains and increase agricultural yield,” said Sesi in his competition application. “According to the World Bank, 112 million tonnes of grain is produced in sub-Saharan Africa annually with up to 40% suffering post-harvest losses. One way to reduce contamination is to measure the exact moisture in grains before storage to maintain the right moisture level. Their solution was GrainMate, an easy to use and affordable moisture tester. They also have another innovation called FarmSense which helps determine the pH, nutrients and moisture level in the soil before cultivation.
“New technologies hold enormous potential in transforming agriculture and creating jobs for youth in the sector. Through new technologies, new companies can be created for the agriculture value chain to create new jobs for youth on the continent,” noted Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International.
So far, the GoGettaz agripreneurship campaign has reached over 50 million young people across the continent since its launch on May 30. Co-catalyzed by Econet and Yara International, and first mooted in Davos in early 2019, the Generation Africa partnership initiative has already inspired several other global players to join the vision to support and inspire young entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across the continent.
“Having been an entrepreneur for the last 33 years, I fully appreciate what each of the entrepreneurs had been through just to get on that stage,” said Strive Masiyiwa, founder and Chair of Econet Global (and Chair Emeritus of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa). The same night, Masiyiwa was awarded the Dr Norman Borlaug World Food Prize medallion by Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation.
“I believe with an investment and support for each one of them, we could easily create 10,000 jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenues for their nations and the continent. Some of these businesses (including those that did not win) are going to be very big one day, mark my words!” said Masiyiwa.
Other young Generation Africa GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize finalists this year included:
Leah Bessa, Gourmet Grubb, South Africa
-Agrifood venture that ethically-farms black soldier fly larvae which it processes into dairy alternatives such as "insect milk" ice cream in many flavours.
Steven Betcha, Ngomalands, DR Congo
-Technological platform that connects owners of uncultivated arable land with people seeking land for agricultural purposes, offering a package of services and products to increase productivity.
Piwai Chikasha, Alley Capital Group, Zimbabwe
-Agritech company with customized, precision agricultural environmentally-friendly crop-spraying drone manufacture and service.
Starlin Farah, Ecodudu Limited, Kenya
Waste-to-value venture utilizing black soldier flies as rich source of protein for animal feeds while recycling organic waste into organic fertilizer.
Bertin Fokou, Distribution Express (DITEX), Cameroon
-A mobile and web app (called “WhatsNear”) developed to reduce the cost of transporting agricultural products by 50% by helping farmers to find transportation via GPS technology, affordable, fast, and near to pick-up place of production.
Lilian Nakigozi, Women Smiles, Uganda
-Social enterprise manufactures vertical farms to sells affordably to women in urban slums, especially in areas affected by drought. Bundle includes training in vermicomposting, with services that link customers using AI tech to markets to sell surplus produce.
Job Oyebisi, FarmCorps, Nigeria
-Agritech company that build and deploy cutting edge technologies and facilitate access to finance and market for smallholders to boost sustainable food production, using digital mobile identity systems, risk analysis and mobile payments to enable donors and others help finance farm inputs.
Siny Samba, Le Lionceau, Senegal
-Produces, and markets baby food made of local African raw materials with high nutritional value to improve nutritional health of moms and babies while strengthening the local food value chain by collaborating with local organic farmers.
Affiong Williams, Reelfruit, Nigeria
Largest dried fruit processing company in Nigeria by revenue and distribution, retailing a range of six unique dried fruit and nut snacks to over 250 retail locations in Nigeria as well as schools, airlines and hotels, plus exports to Europe and the US via Amazon.com.
Several former and current heads of state including H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, who chairs the Africa Food Prize Committee, attended the Gala event, which later in the evening awarded this year’s prestigious Africa Food Prize to Dr Emma Naluyima, a smallholder farmer and private veterinarian from Uganda, and Baba Dioum, a policy champion and agriculture entrepreneur from Senegal.
About Generation Africa
In addition to the $50,000 Generation Africa GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, each of the two winners will receive a package of coaching and mentoring support tailored to their business stage and interests. The competition is only one part of a greater Generation Africa vision to grown millions of young entrepreneurs across the continent to transform food and Africa’s food security and prosperity.
Generation Africa’s enduring mission is to bring the dynamism of youth entrepreneurship to Africa’s agri-food sector, and to strengthen the ecosystem that supports these entrepreneurs as they travel the challenging journey from ideation to scale. Generation Africa’s vision is to work in partnership with other organizations and companies with the same vision to inspire young Africans to become agri-food entrepreneurs; increase the number of youth-led agri-food SMEs sustaining annual growth rates of over 20%; encourage venture capital to be invested in high-potential agri-food SMEs; create jobs; and support the development and commercialization of transformative innovations and technologies in the agri-food sector. For more information please go to www.Genafrica.org.
Yara grows knowledge to responsibly feed the world and protect the planet, to fulfill our vision of a collaborative society, a world without hunger and a planet respected. To meet these commitments, we have taken the lead in developing digital farming tools for precision farming and work closely with partners throughout the whole food value chain to develop more climate-friendly crop nutrition solutions. In addition, we are committed to working towards sustainable mineral fertilizer production. We foster an open culture of diversity and inclusion that promotes the safety and integrity of our employees, contractors, business partners, and society at large. Founded in 1905 to solve the emerging famine in Europe, Yara has a worldwide presence with about 17,000 employees and operations in over 60 countries. In 2018, Yara reported revenues of USD 12.9 billion. www.yara.com
Econet is a pan-African Telecommunications, Technology and Renewable Energy Group, focused on digitally connecting customers in the 28 markets – mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa – where it has operations and investments. Over the years, the Econet Group has developed a converged offering of products and services spanning mobile telephony, fibre infrastructure, media broadcasting, financial services (Fintech), e-commerce, Internet of Things (IoT), and renewable energy. Through these, Econet has connected people, improving their lives and helping to transform the societies in which we operate.
Econet Group’s subsidiaries include Econet Mobile Networks Group, Liquid Telecom, Cassava SmarTech, Distributed Power Africa, Vaya Africa and Technites Africa. Our focus is on the positive transformation of Africans’ lives and of the communities where we serve. We are committed to answering Africa’s call, creating new pathways and possibilities because we speak ‘AfriCAN’ and we are Inspired To Change Your World. https://www.econetafrica.com/
H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana (Left)