Organized by Heifer International, the Agriculture Youth Technology (AYuTe) Challenge was set up to support young entrepreneurs working to scale food security on the continent by developing and deploying affordable tech solutions to impact smallholder farmers.
The intense 12-month competition had over 4000 startup founders from North America, Latin America, Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Asia Pacific to showcase payments innovations.
For six years, through technology, ThriveAgric has built a network of over 500,000 smallholder farmers, giving them access to insight, distribution, and over $150 million in credit, thereby improving their livelihoods and enabling them to grow more than 5 percent of grains consumed in Nigeria.
Speaking on the achievements, Uka Eje, CEO and Co-Founder at ThriveAgric said, “These endorsements are an encouraging validation of the hard work we have put in through the years and pointers that we are on the right path.
“Our desire to create more impact among African smallholder farmers and also expand to new territories is a major driving force for us, as we aim to develop the largest network of profitable farmers in Africa. We remain resolute with our goal of reaching one million farmers this year in Nigeria alone.”
The AYuTe Africa Challenge is one of the most ambitious agriculture competitions on the continent, with a vision of 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.
In addition to the cash grants, it also deploys a team of expert advisers and accomplished business veterans to support AYuTe Africa Champions as they translate this funding into business expansion strategies.
Agriculture in Africa has a massive social and economic footprint. According to McKinsey, agriculture makes up about 23 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP with more than 60 percent of the population being smallholder farmers.
With demand increasing and supply shortfall, smallholder farmers are battling new levels of economic and ecological challenges in farming.
Last year, months of torrential flooding in Nigeria damaged over 400, 000 hectares of farmlands, leading to an all-time high food inflation of 21 percent in the country.
In Kenya, East Africa, a prolonged and most severe drought undercut farmers’ ability to grow crops or raise livestock resulting in acute food insecurity for over 3.5 million people, manifesting in starvation and malnutrition.
Part of ThriveAgric’s work is to ensure that infrastructural buffers are in place to mitigate against extreme conditions that may threaten smallholders’ livelihoods or a nation’s food security.
Having recorded great success in Nigeria, ThriveAgric is looking to deepen its roots in West Africa as well as expand to the East of the continent as part of its goal to reach 10 million farmers by 2027.