Heifer International Awards the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya Winners

The 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya winners pose for a photo with Country Director, Heifer International Kenya, Esta Kamau

Heifer International announced the winners of the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya in a Gala Awards ceremony held in Nairobi.

The 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. Category One aimed at startups in the early idea phase, requiring evidence of concept viability, a basic functional product and/or a prototype. Category Two aimed at startups with innovations that have already been rolled out in the market and applied.  

In the product stage category, Eco Bristo emerged as the winner taking home a cash prize of Kshs 1 million, followed by Agritech Analytics as the 1st Runner-up receiving Kshs 400,000, and Grow Agric as the 2nd Runner-up receiving Kshs 200,000.

Eco Bristo founded by Mutuma Muriuki is a pioneering Agritech startup committed to sustainable pest management. They develop solar-powered insect traps that attract and capture pests such as moths, fruit flies, and other crop-damaging insects revolutionizing pest control and improving crop production.

 Agritech Analytics founded by Maryanne Gichanga is a startup in the smart agriculture industry that leverages the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Satellite Imagery and Data Analytics to provide farmers with actionable insights towards increasing crop yields, reducing resource consumption, and ensuring sustainable agriculture.

 Growagric founded by David Njonjo is a startup in the Agritech space. It operates as a platform that provides farmers with working capital, farm management tools, training, and connects the farmers to ready markets at the end of the farming cycle.

In the ideation stage category, VunaPay emerged as the winner taking home a cash prize of Kshs 250,000, followed by Agronomy Plus, as the 1st Runner-up receiving Kshs 150,000, and Silo Africa as the 2nd Runner-up receiving Kshs 100,000.

VunaPay founded by Koya Matsuno provides instant pay-outs to smallholder farmers through agricultural cooperatives by offering end-to-end produce and farm input management solutions, saving farmers from manual processes, and late payment.

 Agronomy Plus founded by Michael Odhiambo is an on-demand Agtech-enabled agribusiness that aims to upscale smallholder farmers. Functioning as an “Uber for Agronomists,” Agronomy Plus utilizes geolocation technology, USSD, Web, and the Android App to instantly connect farmers to agribusiness service providers and off-takers.

 Silo Africa founded by Eliud Rugut serves smallholder farmers with digitized grain silos equipped with an advanced aflatoxin and pest detection device which is IoT powered, that provides a safe and secure way of preserving grains up to 10 years without the use of chemicals.

 In addition, One Million Avocados and Agronomy Plus won a scholarship award from Astral Aerial.

One Million Avocados founded by Akayru Kevin and Dylan Nyakaru applies technology in farming to increase the production and quality of avocados. The startup utilizes blockchain, IoT, sensors, satellite, and drone monitoring, combined with Artificial Intelligence technologies to increase the production and quality of avocados using precision farming.

The two winners from the ideation category and product category pose for a photo with Halima Nenkari, the guest speaker representing the PS, State Department of Livestock Development

Heifer announced a call for applications for the second edition of the AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya in February 2023. A total of 222 applications were received with representation from all the regional economic blocs across 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. These 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 “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,”said Esta Kamau, Country Director, Heifer International Kenya.

Held under the theme ‘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.

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