Heifer International Kenya awarded three Logitech startups Sh2million during the AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya finals in a bid to drive innovations in the agriculture sector.

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John Waweru, Founder and CEO of Optimerce Consulting Ltd, a business that Digitizes the process of produce collection at farm-gate through mobile apps emerged the winner.

Joshua Gitonga, the founder and CEO Rafiki Pay, a company that deals with the processing of sunflower, groundnuts, soya, and canola oil from the hybrid seeds was the first runner up while Grace Kyarimpa, Agrodiverse Ltd Kenya MD, a business that converts insects, earthworms into sources of protein in animal feed and high-quality organic fertilizers, emerged as the second runner up.

The winner, first runner up, and second runner up and were awarded cash grants of Sh1 million, Sh750,000, and Sh250,000, respectively.

Besides the top three innovations, other finalists included Azma Foods Ltd, Digital Farmer, Ento (insects) Solutions Ltd, Farm Mall, Farmerline Technologies, Limachain, Nalima Digital, Shambaline Ltd, Soluvax, Stofresh Africa, Toothpick Company Ltd, Vermi-Farms Initiative Ltd.

The 15 finalists will benefit from a 3-month accelerator and mentorship program.

The Champions of the inaugural Heifer International AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya were chosen from an impressive field of young agritech innovators from across the country.

The competition design targeted companies must have developed a tech solution to address smallholder farmer challenges with strong potential to scale.

“Having worked with farmers for very many years we see the AYUTe challenge as an opportunity to identify exciting young innovators who have wonderful ideas to be able to walk with them through the journey of finetuning those ideas as well as providing linkage to the opportunities to scale up those ideas” said Esta Kamau, Country Director, Heifer International Kenya
In June 2022, Heifer International Kenya launched the AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya to promote and reward agriculture technology innovation across different agricultural value chains in Kenya.

The applications for the challenge run from June 14 to July 14, while the proposal evaluation pitching and judging were concluded by August 31.

A 2021 study by Heifer International pointed to the need for more investments to embrace agriculture as a desirable career.

Funding, training, and access to agricultural technology were identified as the three key areas to encourage youth involvement in agriculture.

The survey key areas the three key barriers to youth engagement in agriculture in Africa.

“The AYUTe Africa Challenge Kenya competition has affirmed our understanding that many young tech companies require a combination of significant investment and expert guidance, I am confident that we have filled that need, not just for the top three winners but also for those who made into the top 80,” said Esta.