World Bank supported initiative awards African agritech startups driving innovation in agriculture sector

AFRICA – The Global Index Insurance Facility (GIIF), a World Bank Group program, has announced the three top winners of the Africa AgTech & Inclusive Insurance Challenge.

Africa AgTech & Inclusive Insurance Challenge is a competition for technology led enterprises in the region to offer innovative solutions for agriculture and inclusive insurance.

Bagging the top price was Omishtu-Joy from Ethiopia who received US$25,000 financial support.

Omishtu-Joy is an agritech startup that develops hardware that measures soil PH, NPK, moisture, humidity, and temperature level, supported by an AI system that matches crops to farmlands.

The use of technology for development coupled with the ability to improve farmer yield is yet another example of innovation and ingenuity in solving real problems.

Omishtu-Joy today works directly with 5,500 farmers who use their device and is currently training an additional 4300 farmers. The company targets to onboard 18,000 more farmers by end of 2022.

Coming in at 2nd place was Rural Farmers Hub from Nigeria who obtained financial support of US$ 15,000.

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Rural Farmers Hub collects and analyzes primary and secondary data from farmer groups and uses that data in e-extension and consulting services for smallholder farmers, showing how data can impact the agriculture sector significantly.

They work with an extension worker network of over 200 members and has since reached over 25,000 smallholder farmers.

The company targets 10 key corporate customers and an estimated 250,000 small-holder farmers within the next 24 months.

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The 3rd place winner was Agrotech+ from Kenya clinching US$ 10,000.

Their digital platform LendIt enables small-holder farmers access digital services such mobile money payments for commodities sold, micro-lending/input financing, crop insurance and pension scheme for the informal sector.

They have 6,800 registered smallholder farmers with 2,800 actively using the service, and are currently training over 4,000 farmers using SSD technology.

Each of the 3 winners help solve complex social challenges through cutting edge innovations and high potential entrepreneurship, and each of them have shown ability to scale, disrupt and transform the sectors with their promising ideas.

“The role of technology and innovation will be critical to driving growth in underpenetrated financial and insurance sectors across Africa, where a young and growing pool of tech talent and a dramatic increase in digital connectivity will directly boost Africa’s economic value.

“We are very excited to support Africa’s young entrepreneurs through the Africa AgTech & Inclusive Insurance Challenge,” said James Smouse, Global Head of Insurance in IFC’s Financial Institutions Group.

“This was a great opportunity for start-ups in this space to collaborate with IFC and its partners and bring to the fore game-changing ideas that will contribute to the transformation of Africa’s agricultural sector,” said Fatou Assah, GIIF Program Manager.

The challenge received 208 applications from 23 countries across Africa. Innovations included crop and livestock insurance products, innovative credit scoring technologies, crop, and water stress detection technologies, to name a few.

Powered by Sankalp Forum, the challenge aimed to celebrate and support young entrepreneurs who are working at the intersection of agriculture, insurance, climate, and gender to build resilience for rural populations, focusing on Data & Analytics, Agricultural Productivity, and Financial Inclusion.

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