Skip links

The Star – AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya


Young entrepreneurs in Kenya now have the opportunity to pitch for investment in their agritech solutions to boost the incomes and productivity of smallholder farmers.

The initiative by Heifer International Kenya will see participants secure the funding and visibility they need to scale up their agritech solutions to reach millions of farmers across Africa.

According to Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa programmes at Heifer International, there is huge potential for economic growth and employment in agriculture across Africa, but new ideas and technologies are urgently needed.

It’s time for Africa’s tech-savvy youth to use their innovation skills to transform the sector,” he said. Funding, training and access to agricultural technology remain three key areas that the youth can be supported to encourage them embrace agriculture as a desirable career. Through the AYuTe Africa Challenge, Heifer seeks to address these needs in partnership with key stakeholders such as county governments, innovation hubs, academic institutions and development partners among others. “We are partnering with these actors because we strongly believe that at the heart of agriculture, transformation is constant innovation,” Heifer International Kenya said in a statement. The organisation says that young agritech innovators require a combination of significant investment, motivation and mentorship. “AYuTe is our vehicle to reward and drive innovation in the agriculture sector not just in Kenya but in other African countries where we are working with smallholder farmers,” said Esta Kamau, country director, Heifer International Kenya. Through this annual competition, Heifer aims to translate the energy and ideas of young Kenyan agri-tech innovators into meaningful impact for smallholder farmers across the country and support the winners to grow their businesses. “Today we have opened the call for applications for the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya, and we want to encourage young agri-tech innovators in Kenya with early-stage start-ups that have developed tech solutions that address challenges facing smallholder farmers to apply ”she added.

The awards for the competition include a cash prize of up to Sh2 million for the top winners. Through the E4Impact Accelerator, the top 24 innovators will undergo a two-month incubation programme among other benefits such as linkage to investment, networking, training, coaching and mentorship opportunities. “As E4Impact, we are excited to build on the experience and lessons of the 2022 challenge by being part of the 2023 AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya, to offer our expertise in its co-creation, supporting all the agri-tech innovators in their application process with enriching info sessions, coaching and mentoring them in the various stages of the competition,” said David Cheboryot, director, E4Impact Centers. “Later on to incubate the top candidates so that a real and meaningful impact is realised in the agricultural sector of our country.” Interested participants have until March 21 to tender their applications.

Last year, national competitions were held in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda awarding up to $20,000 in each country. In Kenya, Optimerce Consulting Ltd, a business that digitises the process of produce collection at farm-gate through mobile apps was announced as the AYuTe Africa Challenge Kenya Winner. RafikiPay, a company that deals with the processing of sunflower, groundnuts, soya, and canola oil from the hybrid seeds came second while Agrodiverse Ltd Kenya, a business that converts insects, earthworms into sources of protein in animal feed and high-quality organic fertilizers, emerged third.

In addition, the top 15 finalists underwent personalized mentorship and incubation with the support of E4 Impact Accelerator. At the continental level, the AYuTe Africa Challenge awards up to $1.5 million each year with Hello Tractor from Kenya (East Africa) and ColdHubs from Nigeria (West Africa) emerging as inaugural winners in 2021. Digicow from Kenya (East Africa), Brastorne from Botswana (South Africa) and ThriveAgric from Nigeria (West Africa) won the 2022 edition.