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Kenyan Agri-Businesses receive investment

11 Kenyan Agri-Businesses tackling food security set to receive USD 100,000 investment

Eleven Kenyan agribusinesses tackling food security have been selected for the Food Africa Accelerator program in Kenya. The three-month accelerator program will support these women and youth-led agribusinesses towards the investment of upto 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 startups with investors, foundations and development agencies to reach a global scale. 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 SolarFreeze, a post harvest solution for small holder farmers remarked, “we are excited to be part of the Food Africa Accelerator which offers a chance for a startup 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 that, “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 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 startups.”

The eleven selected startups 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 startup 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 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. 

About the Food Africa Accelerator

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 (startups 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. Learn more about the accelerator here. 

About GIZ Make-IT in Africa

The “Tech-Entrepreneurship Initiative Make-IT in Africa” promotes digital innovation for sustainable and inclusive development in Africa. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH implements this project on behalf of the German Federal

About iBiz Africa

@iBizAfrica is the business incubation and innovation center at Strathmore University which seeks to nurture the development, growth and success of startups. We attain this through building the potential of the youth to develop ICT solutions and businesses that work for the common good in society. Learn more about @iBizAfrica Africa here.

About Pangea Accelerator

Pangea Accelerator is a Norwegian based accelerator and an investment platform operating in East Africa that matches African startups with investors, foundations and development agencies to reach a global scale. Learn more about Pangea Accelerator here.
For more information regarding the program reach out to Diana Mutua via email: dmutua@strathmore.edu or call 0721939437.

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5 Things We Learnt on Fundraising for Agritech Startups

By the end of last year in Africa, the continent had received a total of USD 1.25 billion in funding across different sectors. Out of this, there were 280+ agritech ventures offering different solutions in agriculture with the sector ranking 6th in attracting funding, this is according to data collected by Briter Bridges. 

Despite its rank, agriculture remains critical as the sector addresses a basic human need: food. In Kenya, for example, the sector contributes 26 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and another 27 percent of GDP in a roundabout way through linkages with different parts, this is according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). However, due to the complexities of the sector, many countries within the continent are food insecure. In Kenya, approximately 1.3 million people are currently facing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity. With the impact of Covid-19 putting even more pressure on food systems, the need for innovative solutions in the sector to sustain the population and the economy have become even more clear. Thus, this is why FoodTech Africa organized its first webinar to get deeper insights on how agritech startups can fundraise and scale for a food secure continent. 

The webinar had investors; David Maina,Director at Alpha Mundi Group, Maina Murage, an Investment Analyst at DOB Equity, Jonas Tesfu, CEO and Co-Founder of Pangea Accelerator and startup founder, Francis Nderitu of RainoTech4Impact. The panel was moderated by Linda Kwamboka, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Manager of iBiz Africa, Strathmore University. Here are five lessons we learned on how to go about fundraising:

1.Investors look for good, agile entrepreneurs

Jonas Tesfu, set the ball rolling by pointing out one of the most important focus areas for investors is a strong team and further iterated by David. The general consensus was that a strong team guarantees that there is good governance in the startup, a deep grasp of the industry and thus builds investor confidence. David also added that like in most businesses, investors are keen on chemistry with the entrepreneurs, this is because having good chemistry provides a good runway when the going gets tough and founders can easily reach out to investors to help in brainstorming solutions, such relationships are not easy to be fostered if good chemistry does not exist. Lastly, investors are keen for agile teams i.e. founders who are willing to adapt, this is because a lot of startups will keep redefining the business until what works is identified, agile teams are able to adapt easily hence, core for investors.

2.Be realistic about your agritech startup

From investor experiences shared during the webinar, the panel all agreed about the importance of having self-awareness as a founder. Maina Murage shared his experience highlighting how startups need to find the balance in how they sell the big vision while still knowing where their current level is. Drawing from examples; founders were encouraged to know how much they can manage as they scale, that is, identify what you are good at and focus on that as you start. You can later add other business lines when you have capacity. This was noted to build investor confidence and also provides a realistic risk value for the investor.

3.Investors have certain sub-sector priorities

While the agriculture sector has several sub-sectors, it was apparent that investors have specific priority areas and objectives. Currently, many investors are focused on impact with some even indicating that they are targeting innovations linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some of the sub-sectors in agriculture investors are interested in include: digital innovation and data, logistics and supply chain, fintech solutions particularly for smallholder farmers, marketplaces, insurance, crop protection, solar energy solutions, greenhouse technology, agriculture waste among other areas

4.Persistence and Commitment is Key

Francis drove the conversation by sharing his founder story and experiences when seeking investment for his startup. He encouraged founders to look at investment as sales and be comfortable with receiving feedback. He noted as this was what allowed him to improve and refine his business. He also reminded founders that there has to be commitment from you before external investors come in, adding that, you cannot sell what you don’t have. His parting shot was an encouragement to founders, urging them to keep applying for competitions, grants for visibility and show consistency of your startup.

4.Some tips and tricks in case an investor pulls out

During our Q & A session, one of the founders asked a curious question on what happens in the event an investor pulls up. While it was agreed this is not a situation any startup should ever hope to be in, the question provided some insights in case such an eventuality happens. Panelists all agreed the first step is to understand why they pulled out, Maina Murage offered perspective stating that, if an investor pulls out during the due diligence process it could be because they found something that did not fit with them. If however, they pull out after investing, perhaps it could be a fundamental problem they see coming up. David Maina, chimed in, urging founders to have a talk with the investors in order to get feedback on their reasons for pulling out. He also encouraged founders to maintain a good relationship with investors to mitigate their pulling out. Lastly, he cautioned founders to take the shareholder agreement seriously and ascertain that all documents are aligned to avoid disagreements with investors. 

Linda summarized the webinar by reminding startups that raising investment is asking people to join the bandwagon in solving a problem and you have to position yourself in a way that builds trust and credibility.

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