Three Nigerian startups have excelled in the African Development Bank (AfDB) AgriPitch competition for young African entrepreneurs in the agricultural value chain, claiming a combined sum of $70,000.
1st News reports that the Nigerian startups are Foodlocker, Baby Grubz and Releaf.
Equally important, the three Nigerian startups won $70,000 out of the total prize money of $120,000 in three categories. 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 mature start-up, women-empowered businesses and early start-up categories.
Foodlocker emerged the winner in the mature startup category, carting home the $40,000 prize money. On the other hand, Baby Grubz finished as runner-up in the women-empowered businesses category; taking home the prize money of $10,000 in the process. However, Releaf recorded another win for Nigeria in the early start-up category, winning the prize money of $20,000.
Foodlocker CEO, Femi Aiki, winner of the $40,000 mature business category prize said the seed funding provides “a lot of fuel for the road” for his business. Foodlocker supports smallholder farmers with technologies for the production of foods such as tomatoes and chicken.
Aiki said one of the major areas where Foodlocker needs support is working capital.
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“Now we can afford to buy more inputs. We can now afford to bring on board more experts in those value chains who can support smallholder farmers more remotely…That money will support the company to get results,” he added.
Also speaking, Ikenna Nzewi, who represented Releaf, a food pre-processing technology company and the early start-up category winner, expressed excitement at claiming the keenly contested pitch.
“To be chosen from such a qualified list of businesses is always exciting. We are very confident about the work that we are doing to catalyze industrialization in food processing. It is excellent to see the African Development Bank with its High 5s focus – one of them being industrialization – to also be supporting us,” Nzewi added.
Releaf was founded by Nigerian-American graduates from MIT, Yale, and Duke universities who set up shop in Uyo, Nigeria. It plans to save the $20,000 competition prize for future investment.
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. Thereafter, a select top nine AgriPitch competitors made their final pitches to an online panel of judges and investors.
The AgriPitch competition was part of AfDB’s fourth African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF); one of the continent’s most exciting platforms for African youth in the agriculture start-up scene. The event kicked off on November 3, 2020 with weekly webinars and ended with the AgriPitch winners’ ceremony.
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 AfDB says in Africa, small and medium-sized enterprises account for 90% of all businesses. Furthermore, they create 70% of all the jobs and are the drivers of economic growth and long-term sustainability.