Twenty-five young African agripreneurs have advanced to the “boot camp” final round of the African Development Bank’s competition, stepping closer to a share of $120,000 in seed funding prizes, training and other benefits.
The final round offers young entrepreneurs in Africa’s agricultural sector the opportunity to pitch their agribusiness proposals online to a panel of experts and investors who will select the winners.
AgriPitch organizers received more than 2,500 applications and evaluated 605 proposals from 30 countries. The finalists, from 12 African nations, submitted promising proposals that best embraced the 2020 theme of “Driving Sustainable Nutrition and Gender Inclusivity in Africa’s Agri-Food Systems: Youth Agripreneurs Seize the Decade.”
Finalists, all aged under 35, were selected under the competition’s “Start Up,” “Mature Business” and “Women-Empowered Business” categories.
“It is encouraging to see that almost 62% of all AgriPitch 2020 applicants self-described as being women-led businesses or having women make up at least 50% of their management,” said Wambui Gichuri, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.
“Word is spreading that AgriPitch is the competition where all qualified agripreneurs can get the training and support to grow their businesses,” she added.
AgriPitch is part of the African Development 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 online on 3 November and runs through to the AgriPitch winners’ ceremony on 17 November.
The finalists are now enrolled in the AYAF/AgriPitch online training platform, according to Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth Program responsible for the event.
“In this two-week-long business development boot camp, AgriPitch competitors can attend virtual sessions on product development, revenue channel identification, logistics, marketing, business management, investment readiness, financing and other issues, led by trainers and coaches,” Mpyisi said. “The cash prizes may be the most ever awarded at AgriPitch, and the skills offered to all the finalists are invaluable,” he added.
In collaboration with partners, including UN Women, the African Leaders for Nutrition and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative, this year’s AYAF and AgriPitch competition selected finalists from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, Tanzania, Cameroon, Mozambique, Guinea, Malawi, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
The finalists get automatic access to the AYAF webinar series. The general public can also register for the webinars, which feature speakers with expertise from across the development, nutrition, gender and agriculture sectors.
The first session on 3 November addressed Policies for sustainable nutrition and gender inclusivity. Remaining webinars are scheduled for:
* 10 November: Empowering youth and women in agricultural value chains to address nutrition
* 17 November: Strategic partnerships for equity in agriculture: Financing women, youth and nutrition.
The AgriPitch finals and winners’ ceremony will be held on 16 and 17 November. In addition to receiving seed funding prizes and post-competition mentoring, AgriPitch winners will be invited for the AYAF online DealRoom, which connects expansion-ready, youth-led African businesses with global investors. Companies selected for the AgriPitch Competition shortlist, but who didn’t make it to the competition, also qualify to join the AYAF/AgriPitch online DealRoom.