Contanna, an online luxury tea products platform has bagged $25k at the The 2022 AgriPitch competition .Contanna was founded by Adja Sembene Fall, a Senegalese female founder who begun her entrepreneurial journey at the age of 14, selling fresh fruit during lunch time to high school students. She later ventured into tea business inspired by the risk and hardship tea marketers face when trying to sell their tea leaves late at night before they spoil.
Due to financial constraints it was not possible for Adja to find a physical shop. Her company was started out in the backyard of her brother’s house where her tea products were sold on social media for three years.
“Digitising our buying process was really important. We were also able to present and adjust packaging of our product online, to emphasize it was premium and different from what was available in Senegal.”
The company focused on Instagram and its website which enabled her to raise $5 000 in online sales in the first year of operation. The business then expanded reaching $12 000 in sales, hence establishing a community of around 2 000 clients.
Recently the startup opened a pop-up stall at Dakar’s Sea Plaza shopping mall, and it also won the African Development Bank’s AgriPitch competition which supports African youth agripreneurs by improving their business bankability and ensuring that they are “pitch ready” for potential investors.
The 2022 edition received nearly 750 complete applications from entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector out of which 25 semi-finalists, 68% of them women-owned or led businesses were selected to attend a two-week business development virtual boot camp. The bootcamp culminated in a pitch session to judges, who chose nine agripreneurs to advance to the finals.
Adja ,the founder of Contanna Tea received $25 000 as the winner in the AgriPitch competition’s women-owned business category.
Contanna’s tea products are about more than taste. They sell a “Senegalese experience” that promotes a women-owned, 100% locally sourced and processed product based on recipes infusing family and cultural traditions.
“African youth have great ideas. It was exciting to see the high level of innovation and passion from these young agripreneurs, particularly the large number of women-owned enterprises like Contanna,” said Edson Mpyisi, the bank’s chief financial economist and ENABLE Youth coordinator.
Adja says she’ll use part of the prize money to upgrade a digital payment system and for computers and digital skills training for Contanna employees, all women.
Contanna and other competition finalists will retain access to the AgriPitch “deal room” to avail of post-competition digital expertise, business development, and investor engagement.
The 2022 AgriPitch competition’s winners and runners-up included:
Early start-ups category: Etoduma SARL from Cote d’Ívoire received $25 000 as the winner. The first runner-up, Agrisiti from Maatalous Nasah in Nigeria, won $15 000.
Women-owned or -led category: This category was won by Adja Sembene Fall’s Contanna company. The first runner-up was Legendary Foods in Ghana who walked away with $15 000.
Mature start-ups category: The winner was Minagro Group from Togo who won $40 000. The first runner-up was Faso Elevage from Burkina Faso who received $20 000.