Heifer International Selects ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne as Winners of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge
Heifer International announced today the 2022 winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge that supports agritech innovators: ThriveAgric of Nigeria, Kenya’s DigicCow and Botwana-based Brastorne Enterprises. ThriveAgric is a fast-growing start-up boosting farmer incomes and production with its breakthrough “agriculture operating system.” DigiCow is an agritech firm using digital tools to modernize production on small-scale dairy farms, while the digital technology for feature phones developed by Brastorne Enterprises is narrowing Africa’s rural digital divide.
“At a time when Africa is facing unprecedented food-related challenges, it is incredibly inspiring to see these young African champions firmly focused on an agriculture-led future that provides farmers with the innovations they need to succeed,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa Programs, Heifer International. “We launched this competition in 2021, challenging African youths to bring us innovations poised to provide the positive disruption our farmers urgently need. ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne are more than ready to meet the moment,” she noted.
As winners of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge, the three companies will receive a sizeable monetary investment: a total of USD 1.5 million in grants, along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisers accomplished business veterans to help them translate their funding into an aggressive expansion strategy. This is part of Heifer International’s commitment to support young entrepreneurs developing affordable tech innovations as they work to scale their businesses. Doing so makes new services and technologies available to African farmers to overcome long-standing challenges while attracting a new generation to unlock the huge potential of agriculture on the continent.
All three of the 2022 winners are helping African farmers by providing a novel solution to everyday obstacles:
ThriveAgric addresses a key challenge for small-scale farmers in Africa—a lack of access to finance, technical advice, business skills and market opportunities. It does so by using a proprietary Agriculture Operating System to help a team of 2,000 field agents support some 500,000 farmers across 22 Nigerian states with insights to improve their production and profits.
“We’ve developed the technologies, strategies and partnerships we believe can build the largest network of productive, profitable farmers Africa has ever seen,” said Uka Eje, Thrive Agric’s co-founder and CEO. “ThriveAgric’s 500,000 farmers are already producing and earning much more than the average Nigerian farmer. Investors are responding to our potential and this prestigious award from Heifer International will accelerate our plans to expand across the continent.”
DigiCow is helping small-scale African dairy operations increase productivity with technology that provides free access to livestock management experts and links farmers to skilled and qualified veterinarians, artificial insemination providers and feed supply services—all from their mobile phones.
“I grew up watching my mom struggle to get our cows to produce enough milk, and I’ve spent 15 years working with small-scale dairy farmers, so I know the challenges farmers face,” said Peninah Wanja, co-founder of Nairobi-based DigiCow. “That’s why it’s been so exciting to see 60,000 farmers—many of them women—now using our DigiCow apps to become more profitable and productive. With this new support from Heifer International, I’m confident we can expand our reach to help small-scale dairy farmers across the continent.”
Brastorne‘s apps, such as mAgri, give farmers access to farming information, markets and short-term finance using the capabilities of any feature phone, such as SMS and interactive voice technology. The Brastorne mobile service Mpotsa (“Ask me”) provides rural unconnected mobile users with localized information, and Vuka harnesses USSD technology to allow users on any phone to create profiles, add friends, create chat groups, and more. These technologies have helped farmers realize a 250% increase in yields and achieve 85% savings in communication and information access. The company also boasts 100% youth employment.
“About 80% of Africans cannot afford smartphones or expensive data — but they do have feature phones, and Brastorne is ensuring those phones connect farmers, youth and women to the resources they need,” said Martin Stimela, co-founder and CEO of Brastorne. “We look forward to working with Heifer International to connect the rural poor with equitable access to markets, information and community.”
AWIEF Opens Registration for its 2023 Africa Conference
AWIEF 2022 Conference held in Cairo, Egypt (Image: Supplied)
The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has announced the opening of registration for its annual conference and awards. This year is the 9th edition of the prestigious AWIEF event, and it will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), Kigali, Rwanda, on 9 and 10 November 2023.
AWIEF has become Africa’s leading entrepreneurship, innovation and technology platform, bringing together more than 1,300 entrepreneurs and startups, industry experts, thought leaders, policy drivers, and change-makers from across Government, Corporate and Development sectors for impactful discussions and dialogue on new ideas, initiatives, strategies, and solutions to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, digitization, intra-Africa trade, investing, food security, climate action and sustainability and, ultimately, economic and social transformation in Africa.
Last year’s speakers included H. E. Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, H. E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Solomon Quaynor, Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization, African Development Bank (AfDB), Jackie Jones, Director, Gender Equality Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Izabela Milewska, Digital Skills Global Leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Sponsors included Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AWS, Afreximbank, Sparkle, and Africa Europe Foundation. AWIEF 2023 will be a fully in-person event, coming back to its full glory since 2020 when COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to go virtual and hybrid.
AWIEF Founder and CEO, Irene Ochem, said: “We are excited to be bringing the 9th edition of our annual conference to East Africa for the first time and especially Kigali, one of the most exciting cities in Africa right now. We are looking forward to advancing our efforts in connecting the African and global entrepreneurship ecosystem in this significant hub for business, technology, and innovation.”
All AWIEF 2023 participants, attending the event from outside Rwanda, are eligible for a visa upon arrival without prior application. Citizens of African Union, Commonwealth and La Francophonie member countries can obtain free visas upon arrival for a visit of 30 days.
Baron & Cabot launches a portal to support the expansion of local real estate agencies in Africa
Baron & Cabot Managing Director, Mark Pearson
Baron and Cabot, a UK-based international real estate firm has launched a game-changing concept, a UK property portal that is offering a strategic expansion plan for real estate agencies in Africa. The innovative approach, is a first of its kind using AI technology to predict property prices and will allow real estate agents in Africa to sell properties, and earn in pounds, providing an unprecedented opportunity for growth and financial success.
Through this portal, real estate firms will get to de-risk their investments in international markets and gain access to a wide range of fully compliant properties. Baron & Cabot, with a reputation for being one of the top fastest-growing property companies in the world and transacting on around £100 million GBP per annum ($120 m) of UK property while having access to some of the best property developments in the UK, has been particularly successful in Africa due to inflation driving clients to move their money into GBP and Dollar to purchase assets.
“We are thrilled to be launching this innovative concept that will not only provide a platform for real estate agents in Africa to sell UK properties but will also create job opportunities and drive economic growth. We believe that by leveraging AI technology to predict property prices, we can provide our partners with a unique advantage and help them to achieve financial success. Our joint venture expansion plans are aimed at creating mutually beneficial partnerships that will bring value to all parties involved.” – Mark Pearson, Managing Director of Baron & Cabot.
In addition to providing agents with access to new revenue streams, Baron and Cabot’s property portal is also expected to create new job opportunities in the African market. The company is committed to providing its agents with comprehensive 2 to 4 week training and support to help them succeed in their new roles. This training will ensure that agents are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the real estate market and take advantage of the opportunities that Baron and Cabot’s concept provides. Real estate will have the ability to reserve properties and Baron and Cabot will process the client through legal processes.
As part of its offering, Baron and Cabot will provide clients with mortgages anywhere in the world (excluding war zones), with mortgage rates lower than 6% and deposits below 35%, making it easier for clients to invest in UK properties.
Mark Pearson, Managing Director of Baron & Cabot, said, “Our management company boasts an impressive occupancy rate of over 99%, with properties awaiting new tenants for an average of only 10 days. This sets us apart from other cities around the world, where the average occupancy rate is only 70%. In addition, our AirBnb or short-term rental products have an average occupancy rate of over 70%, resulting in substantial rental returns and a secure investment. Our secret to success lies in our ability to identify high-demand areas with low supply, combined with exceptional management that keeps both our tenants and landlords satisfied.”
Baron and Cabot utilizes advanced machine learning and data processing to analyze millions of lines of data to identify the best investment locations and pockets of value for clients. With access to information such as the square footage of every property in England and every sold price of every residential property in the UK since 1997, along with economic forecasts, government investment plans, and knowledge of upcoming transport links for the next 5 years, Baron and Cabot is ahead of the curve when it comes to investments. This allows investors to benefit not only from the firm’s purchasing power and large discounts, but also from massive rental growth and capital growth.
Autochek appoints Robert Granados to its board of directors to support growth
Autochek, the automotive technology company making car ownership more accessible and affordable across Africa, has appointed US automotive industry leader and veteran, Robert Granados to its board of directors to support its ongoing growth and expansion.
Robert has over two decades of global experience in leading and growing technology companies focused on providing solutions for the automotive industry value chain. He is currently CEO of CloudOne, a marketing company that helps auto dealers find and engage customers. He was Senior Vice President and General Manager at DealerTrack Technologies, where he led various units, including the finance and lender networks, inventory management and transportation, CRM, and independent dealer websites. Post the acquisition of DealerTrack Technologies by Cox Automotive Inc., the global leader in providing automotive solutions, he served as Senior Vice President, Strategy, at Cox Automotive, where he performed assessments of new growth opportunities, expansion of current business offerings, and effectiveness of current products and services.
He served as Operating Partner at SNH Capital Partners, where he was CEO of the Automotive Portfolio which comprised of National Credit Center, the leading provider of comprehensive data, software and marketing solutions to US dealerships and ProMax, the leading software provider to retail automotive dealers, offering award winning CRM, desking, website, credit, and lead generation solutions. He was also CEO of MAX Digital, a leading automotive inventory management and merchandising platform, supporting the company through a successful exit in 2021.
He will bring this vast experience to Autochek, supporting the integration of the Pan-African automotive industry to drive shared value for consumers, manufacturers, financial institutions and other stakeholders.
Autochek provides best in class technology and advisory solutions to car dealers, financial institutions and other stakeholders in Africa’s automotive ecosystem, supporting them to improve credit decisions, collections, pricing, portfolio management and product development, as well as deliver an enhanced customer experience.
Since launching in 2020, Autochek has driven the penetration of auto-financing across Africa, enabling more consumers and businesses across North, West, East and South Africa to access financing solutions to purchase their desired vehicles. In less than two years of operations, the company has worked with more than 70 financial institutions and more than 2,000 dealerships to process more than 80,000 car loan applications. Leveraging the vast reach of its online marketplace, the company originates auto loans powered by data analytics that makes it easier for financial institutions to offer credit to consumers.
Etop Ikpe, CEO of The Autochek Group, said, “We are excited to have someone of Robert’s calibre on our board with his vast experience from the most advanced automotive markets in the world. He has played a major role in building many successful automotive technology companies and we are looking forward to leveraging his experience to support our continued growth as a company.”
Robert Granados said, “There is a great opportunity to transform lives and livelihoods across Africa by making car ownership more accessible and affordable, and I am thrilled to be supporting Etop and the team to make this happen. Autochek has achieved so much success in a short period of time and I believe there is so much more to come.”