We started our exploration of the African innovation ecosystem 6 years ago and every year – thanks to our team of volunteers, our supporters and many local partners – we discover new amazing and resilient entrepreneurs. This time we are going to hold our special bootcamp in Kenya focusing on agribusiness startups.
Agriculture plays a vital role in Kenya’s economy, contributing to 24% of the country’s GDP and providing employment for 40% of its population, while 65% of the agricultural products are exported (Source: FAO 2021). Kenya is also a hub for startups: agri-tech is the second-largest sector after fintech and 308 active startups attracted a total of $1.2 billion in investments in 2022, an increase of 110% from the previous year (source: Disrupt Africa 2022).
To further boost the agribusiness innovation in Kenya, BeEntrepreneurs APS and Joule, Eni School of Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in Nairobi, decided to launch in february 2023 a new initiative called “Seeds for Sustainable Energy” hosted by E4 Impact Accelerator Kenya. The program aims at scouting 10 of the best startups in East Africa with focus on sustainable and innovative agriculture solutions. In one month, the Call for Startups has collected 202 applications from Kenya and not only, with different levels of new companies: 22% at concept stage, 56% at early & seed stage, 22% at growth stage.
Here below the Top 10 selected Startups with a short description:
- Koch Food Waste Management Champions collects waste and processes it into different products, including compost / fertilizer, briquettes and oil;
- FamerLifeLine Technologies: startup that keep the crops healthy detecting crop pests and diseases before time;
- Cellubioclag Distilors produces bioethanol fuel from some wild non-food tree plant feedstock (‘Cebioxa’ Cellulosic Bioethanol fuel);
- DroneCrops Ventures assists farmers in mapping and spraying using drones. DCV crop insights guide the farmers to identify underperforming areas such as those with irrigation issues, nutrient deficiencies, or infestation by pests and diseases;
- Farm IT is an AgriTech startup that provides farmers with digital services to improve their livelihoods with three farmer digital services: 1. Crop Mapping mobile technology, 2. Mkulima Plus, and 3. M-tractor;
- Shamba Pride: CRM, extension, BNPL and market linkage commerce platform which not only solves supply chain bottlenecks but also modernizes these merchants and their customers operations creating a local farming community of improved choice, variety, better prices and transparency;
- Agrotech Plus: modular, solar-powered walk-in cold rooms that provides 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation for fresh fruits and vegetables. They are installed in markets and farms within the reach of farmers and retailers;
- Soil Doctors: manufacture Carbon-sink planters, a low-cost, biodegradable product in which trees can grow autonomously without irrigation. The carbon-sink planters are produced by blending rock minerals including olivine with solid waste which is first modified into biochar through pyrolysis;
- Global Agricultural Solution: supply innovative agrimachinery, do biogas installations and biodigester septic tank installations and offer online biogas courses and learning resources. It’s a revolutionary digital platform where farmers can easily learn and access agrimachinery;
- Marula Proteen: the startup transforms Africa’s waste into sustainable feed & fertilizer.
Domenica Surace at Joule commented: «Last July Eni launched its first agri-hub in Kenya: an aggregation center where the collection and pressing of oilseeds takes place and from where, last October, the first cargo of vegetable oil has left on its way to Gela’s biorefinery for the production of biofuels. Joule together with BeEntrepreneurs has decided to support this business initiative by launching the “Seeds for Sustainable Energy” call for startups with the aim of identifying innovative solutions and promoting their integration into the biofuel value chain. We know that the entrepreneurial ecosystem of East Africa is very vibrant therefore we expect to find many solutions and to contribute to the creation of synergies and collaborations between local startups and stakeholders involved in the agri-hub in order to generate income opportunities and at the same time to make the business more sustainable thanks to innovation».
The 10 selected startups will have the opportunity to attend 4 days of training and co-planning program in Nairobi at E4 Impact Accelerator, led by BeEntrepreneurs APS and Eni teams. The program will provide mentorship and acceleration through actionable best practices, inspiring talks, and memorable group activities. The ultimate goal is to support the growth of sustainable new businesses and to create a new generation of entrepreneurs.
“Seeds for Sustainable Energy” initiative is indeed a unique opportunity for Kenyan startups to showcase their innovative solutions and help their businesses grow. The program is planned to make a positive impact on the agribusiness sector and help Kenya reach its sustainable energy goals and creating an intercultural cooperation between Italy/Europe and Africa.
Speaking about opportunities of collaboration, Lorenzo D’Amelio, VicePresident & CoFounder at BeEntrepreneurs said «We can’t wait to meet the selected startups and their young founders. In 2022 Kenya has raised more than 1 billion dollars as investments for startups with an increase of +110% compared to 2021. The average age in Kenya is 19 years, in Europe is 42. These numbers speak by themselves: this Call for Startups is an opportunity for us to learn from the youths and work with new African companies to make an impact on millions of people».
The host of the initiative in Nairobi, E4Impact commented through David Cheboryot – Director at E4Impact Entrepreneurship Centers: «Seeds for Sustainable Energy initiative speaks to the core of what we are doing in Kenya, nurturing and supporting the birth and growth of impact enterprises that are creating real and impactful solutions in their local communities as well as creating jobs and opportunities at the local level; like those in the bio-fuel value chains that are empowering hundreds of small holder farmers».
Click here for more information about “Seeds for Sustainable Energy”.