Heifer International Kenya Country Director, Esta Kamau, poses for a photo with the winners of the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya. Photo Credit: Heifer
By Murimi Gitari, September 1, 2023, Heifer International has announced and awarded the winners of the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya in a Gala Awards ceremony held in Nairobi on Thursday. The leading global non-profit organization working to end hunger and poverty in low- and middle-income countries awarded cash grants and scholarships to eight winners.
This year’s winners were drawn from two categories namely ideation and product-stage. In the product stage category, Eco Bristo emerged as the winner taking home a cash prize of KSh 1 million, followed by Agritech Analytics as the 1st Runner-up receiving KSh 400,000, and Grow Agric as the 2nd Runner-up receiving KSh 2o0,000.
In the ideation stage category, VunaPay emerged as the winner taking home a cash prize of KSh 250,000, followed by Agronomy Plus, as the 1st Runner-up receiving KSh 150,000, and Silo Africa as the 2nd Runner-up receiving KSh 100,000. In addition, One Million Avocados and Agronomy Plus won a scholarship award from Astral Aerial.
Speaking during the awarding ceremony, Heifer International Kenya Country Director, Esta Kamau, said that this year’s competition had positive feedback not only from the competitors but also from the partners and other organizations.
“The AYuTe challenge is a catalyst for growth, combining a cash incentive with business development initiatives to translate the energy and ideas of young Kenyan innovators into solution providers working with smallholder farmers in Kenya,” she said.
A call for applications for the second edition of the AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya was announced in February this year by the organization.
The competition drew a total of 222 applications with representation from all the regional economic blocs in the country. A thorough assessment process was conducted which involved the screening of applications based on predefined criteria. From this, 122 innovators were selected and underwent a meticulous pitching, mentorship, training and incubation process.
Eventually, 21 innovations emerged as the finalists which included ByteAnza, Eco Bristo, GrowAgric, One Million Avocados, Harvest Care, Sbike Limited, Touche Kami, Sulma Agri Value, Vunapay, Zamil Farms Limited, BnB Electrix, E-Poultry, Vermi- Farm Initiative, AgriTech Analytics, Agronomy Plus, Eco Starch, Farmer Lifeline, Kilimo Mitaani, Mwani Africa, Royal Food Industries and Silo Africa.
The annual competition awards cash grants and mentorship to translate aggressive business expansion strategies that impact smallholder farmers.
Themed ‘Identity, Elevate, Grow Together: Propelling Agriculture Transformation Through Youth-Led Innovations’, the event emphasized the need for collaboration among agriculture stakeholders to support the application of innovation and modern technologies in the sector.
Esta Kamau, Heifer Kenya’s Country Director thanked partners such as E4Impact Entrepreneurship Centre, Mastercard’s Community Pass, Astral Aerial, and Advanta Seeds among others noting their contribution demonstrated commitment to supporting game-changing innovations transforming agriculture using modern technologies.
“We are keen on trusted partnerships in identifying game-changing youth-led innovations, elevating them through market-driven training, mentorship and connections, and growing together for the benefit of smallholder farmers” she said.
The country director also added that future of Africa’s agriculture hinges on creating opportunities for young African innovators to propel agriculture transformation, catalyze ground-up innovation from young Africans and make agriculture a desired career for the future.
The Permanent Secretary for State Department of Livestock Development John Mueke, who was represented during the ceremony, in his remarks thanked Heifer International for recognizing innovations noting that the challenge is a great initiative as it not only empowers young innovators but also motivates innovations that are geared towards accelerating the economic growth of the country through agricultural innovations.
Heifer has partnered with E4Impact Entrepreneurship Centre to offer technical assistance to accelerate local innovation’s growth and sustainability.
“Our critical role as E4Impact is to work with the innovators to shape their innovations through training, mentoring, and linking them to various coaches, early-stage investors, and sector experts, throughout the competition,” said David Cheboryot, the Director of E4Impact Entrepreneurship Center.
Dr Benadette Mutinda, the Country Director E4Impact, on her remarks appreciated the innovators saying the entrepreneurship spirit among the youth in all sectors in the country especially in innovation is a game changer for the economic value of the country.
Mutuma Muriuki, the Founder of Eco Bristo, who bagged the Ksh 1million and the overall winner thanked Heifer International Kenya for the award for the initiative noting thathe did not expect to win.
“The announcement came as a surprise but I want really appreciate Heifer for recognizing me and the efforts Eco Bristo is putting towards enabling the growth of food systems through agroecology,” Mutuma said.
The AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya is the local chapter of the continent-wide AYuTe Africa Challenge and one of the most ambitious agriculture competitions on the continent, combining the power of African youth with the many possibilities of emerging technologies to support smallholder farmers across Africa to grow their businesses and incomes.