Esther Kimani founder of FarmerLifeLine Technologies in Kenya has emerged a winner at the Africa Food Prize Awards. The awards in which the winners walked away with a US$50,000 grand prize was organised by African Green Revolution Forum’s (AGRF).
With 12 top-class finalists in this year’s GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition, four additional Impact Awards winners were merited and will receive US$2,500: Eloge Niyomwungere, founder of Best Food Solution in Burundi, Nancy Iraba co-founder of Healthy Seaweed Company in Tanzania, Noël N’guessan co-founder of LONO in Côte d’Ivoire, and Seynabou Dieng, co-founder of Maya Sarl in Senegal.
Emerging victorious among the women agripreneurs, Esther Kimani and her company FarmerLifeLine Technologies invented a device that helps Kenyan farmers to get ahead of pests and pathogens with a proprietary disease detection device that leverages solar-powered cameras, Artificial Intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning.
Among the men, grand prize winner Mark Musinguzi of Hya Bioplastics wants to lead Africa in sustainable food packaging with an innovative biodegradable product solution that provides a cost competitive alternative to petroleum-based plastic packaging.
Generation Africa co-founder Svein Tore Holsether, CEO and President of Yara International, delivered keynote remarks at the final pitching contest to thank the finalists for their visionary work, remarking: “Once again, I am so impressed with the finalists. They are all truly inspiring and I see them as leaders and role models in a world that so desperately needs that kind of drive and dedication to solve the staggering global challenges we are faced with.”
AGRF Chair Emeritus Strive Masiyiwa, Generation Africa co-founder and Executive Chairman of Econet and Cassava Technologies, joined Holsether via video message to motivate the contestants to use their entrepreneurial spirit for positive impact: “From amongst you, are the very people who are going to save our continent and ensure that millions of people do not starve, ensure that millions of other people will be able to overcome the challenges created by climate change. […] The true winners are not going to be because you got a prize, but because you were inspired and encouraged to go on to do greater things with your entrepreneurial venture, and that you reached out where the need was greatest, and the help was least,” Masiyiwa said in a heartfelt appeal.
Embodying the spirit of Masiyiwa’s message, Generation Africa also recognized four Impact Award Winners for each venture’s potential to empower communities and protect the environment.
For Senegalese Seynabou Dieng, the company she co-founded, Maya, is much more than a food processing company. By partnering with small-scale local farmers in Mali, this 80% women-staffed company gets the best local ingredients to manufacture their proudly African sauces, spices, mixes, and dried fruits.
Nancy Iraba founded Healthy Seaweed Company to boost the livelihoods for women seaweed farmers in Zanzibar and to bring the health benefits of seaweed home through local value-addition and the promotion of seaweed as a sustainable and highly nutritious food source.
Noël N’guessan of LONO co-founded his business to focus on healthy soil. One of its products, KubeKo, helps farmers in Côte d’Ivoire to unlock value from their waste. This easy-to-use biogas composting system generates 2hrs of cooking gas and 50l of liquid fertilizer from 5kg of organic waste per day.
Eloge Niyomwungere and his business Best Food Solution processes chillies into oil, powder, and dried chillies for local and export markets. He founded his company to revitalise Burundi’s chilli industry by supporting smallholder farmers with quality inputs and guaranteed offset. They even manufacture an organic chilli-based pesticide to protect yields.
Marking the first in-person GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition since 2019, the twelve finalists were elated for the post-pandemic opportunity to build relationships with a global complement of delegates attending the 2022 AGRF summit. They enjoyed facilitated participation at the AGRF Agribusiness Deal Room where they could build face-to-face trust with future partners, investors, and clients. Corteva Agriscience, one of Generation Africa’s co-founders, sponsored the finalists in their travels to the live event.
“By bringing them to Africa’s biggest agriculture summit we hope to catalyse relationships between these youth agripreneurs and global leaders in the industry. The GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, and the networks and connections that come with it, is designed to empower the youth generation to scale their impact-driven agrifood businesses in the fight for a sustainable, African food system. It is wonderful to see this powerful platform back in action,” said Barbra Muzata, Head of Corporate Communications and Brand at Corteva Agriscience.
The fourth annual GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize reached nearly six million people during the entry window from 19 April to 6 June 2022. Applications streamed in from 45 African countries with 10 countries represented amongst the Top 12 finalists.