Foodlocker, Mhogo Foods, and Releaf have won the top cash prizes in this year’s African Development Bank’s $120,000 AgriPitch competition.
Foodlocker is a smallholder farmer food procurement company in Nigeria, Mhogo Foods is a cassava processing business in Kenya while Releaf is a novel food processing technology start-up from Nigeria.
Foodlocker by Femi Aiki won the $40,000 top prize among the mature startups while the Lono by Noel N’guessan from Côte d’Ivoire took home $20,000 as the Runner-Up.
Under women-empowered businesses, Kenya’s Mhogo Foods by Elizabeth Gikebe won the $20,000 prize and Nigeria’s Baby Grubz by Oluwaseun Sangoleye, was the runner-up and took home $10,000.
Under early start-ups Ikenna Nzewi of Releaf took home $20,000 while Uganda’s Bringo Fresh by David Matsiko emerged the runner-up with $10,000.
In addition to receiving seed funding prizes and post-competition mentoring, AgriPitch winners will be invited to the AYAF online DealRoom, which connects expansion-ready, youth-led African businesses with global investors.
The AgriPitch competition offered young entrepreneurs in Africa’s agricultural sector the opportunity to pitch their agribusiness proposals to a panel of experts and investors who selected winners in “early start-up,” “mature start-up” and “women-empowered businesses” categories.
Held virtually, AgriPitch saw more than 2,500 applications and 605 proposals from 30 countries shortlisted down to 25 finalists from 12 countries. The finalists qualified for a two-week business development boot camp, and then a select top 9 AgriPitch competitors made their final pitches to an online panel of judges and investors.
The AgriPitch competition was part of the Bank’s fourth African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF) – one of the continent’s most exciting platforms for African youth in the agriculture start-up scene – which kicked off on 3 November with weekly webinars and ended with the AgriPitch winners’ ceremony.
“The Bank’s Enable Youth Program aims to empower youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain by harnessing new and innovative skills, technologies and financing approaches, so that the youth can establish viable and profitable small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth Program responsible for the event.
In Africa, small and medium-sized enterprises account for 90% of all businesses and create 70% of all the jobs and are the drivers of economic growth and long-term sustainability.
“Through the AgriPitch competition, the Bank is committed to supporting youth who are ambitious, creative, technology-savvy, and who have an entrepreneurial spirit to establish profitable small and medium-sized enterprises for a prosperous and inclusive Africa,” Mpyisi added.
In collaboration with partners, including UN Women, African Leaders for Nutrition and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative (AFAWA), this year’s AYAF and AgriPitch competition awarded the winner and runner-up prizes as follows: