The AYuTe Kenya Challenge was officially launched today at the Radisson Blu Hotel, a collaboration between Heifer International Kenya and E4Impact Foundation in Kenya. The challenge is aimed at growing young agri-techpreneurs in Kenya by providing a platform to pitch for investments with the end goal of increasing their revenues and overall agricultural productivity in Africa.
Dr. Paul Kipronoh, Ag. CEO, ICT Authority, who gave the keynote, emphasized on the need for change in the agricultural sector in the country. He stated that this would only be possible by enabling the adaptation of technologies to safeguard the sector. “Training opportunities are necessary to allow local farmers and ‘mama mbogas’ to have necessary skills in the utilization of ever changing technologies,” he emphasized.
He added that it was the role of the government to ensure that Kenyan citizens, especially those from low income regions, would have ready access and linkages to finances and technologies to benefit their communities.
Hello Tractor, a previous winner in the challenge, was represented by Jehiel Oliver, CEO, in the panel discussion. The award winning company connects small holder farmers with tractor owners through a digital platform to increase productivity. They also offer a pay-as-you-go system that allows the farmers to purchase expensive machinery with ease.
Jehiel, stated profoundly that Kenya is steps ahead in regards to agri-tech as compared to other countries in the region. This should encourage the youth to take advantage of opportunities in the sector as a source of gaining income, with the rate of youth unemployment steadily rising globally.
Hon. Mary Nzomo, County Executive, TransNzoia County, shared as part of the panel some strategies that have worked in her county. She said that there has been an uptake of technologies by farmers to aid in their production activities as a means of preventing post harvest losses. This was achieved by offering incentives that not only allowed them to acquire machinery at subsidized prices but also encouraged youth to venture into agriculture. She added that initiatives such as the newly revived 4K Clubs in Kenya, a program that engages with primary school children in participating in agricultural activites, would ensure that future generations would have evolved mindsets when approaching the sector that is saturated by older folk.
The AYuTe Kenya Challenge is part of the solution that will ensure that more youth venture into agricultural activities as a means of gaining a steady income. For those hoping to benefit from the program, the eligibility criteria requires that the applicant be an:
- Early-stage start-up (less than 3 years old).
- To be established or already registered in Kenya.
- Have an innovative agri-tech solution responding to the needs of the agri-value chain at various levels (e.g., production, aggregation, post-harvest losses, value addition, marketplace, financing etc.).
- Have a focus on impacting the lives of small-holder farmers.
In addition to having Cash Prize awards of a total of KSh. 1,750,000.00 for the top 3 winners, the top 15 finalists will benefit from a 3 month incubation program, customized training boot camps at the various levels of the competition among other incentives.
By Michelle Mung’ata
Communication & Marketing Lead