Two visionary agripreneurs clinched top honours in the fifth annual GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition Finals held at the Africa Food Systems Forum Summit 2023. During an exciting Youth Town Hall event chaired by H.E. President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, Generation Africa awarded two grand prizes of USD 50,000 to Ms Hasina Andriatsitohaina, Founder and CEO of Mad’Arom in Madagascar, and Mr Ikenna Nzewi, co-Founder and CEO of Releaf Africa in Nigeria.
Four GoGettaz Impact Award Winners were also announced at the closing Youth Innovation Awards Celebration the following day. Each Impact Award winner received a USD 2,500 prize. Generation Africa partner USAID donated a further USD 1,000 to each of the remaining six finalists in order to recognize their contributions. All Gogettaz winners were lauded for their entrepreneurial vision, diligent preparation, expertly crafted on-stage pitches, and the innovative new businesses they’ve each launched in Africa’s agrifood sector.
“This year’s summit theme is ‘Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation.’ Far from being a distant hope, these GoGettaz have demonstrated to everyone at the Summit that they are Africa’s solutions,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). “I hope the investors were paying attention because I can clearly see how some of these businesses have the potential to impact millions of lives across the continent in the next decade.”
About winner; Hasina Andriasitohaina
A food technology specialist engineer in agriculture and environmental sciences, Hasina Andriatsitohaina of Madagascar received this year’s grand prize in the female-led category.
Mad’Arom encourages the development of the spice and aroma value chains by promoting the agroforestry system with around 2,000 producers in rural areas of Madagascar, and by collecting and transforming the products into essential oils before wholesaling it to the food, cosmetics, and perfume industries on the national and international markets.
The agroforestry system not only preserves and restores Madagascar’s soil and biodiversity, but also generates income for small-scale producers throughout the year. The post-harvest processing of spices is an important activity, generating jobs for young people and women in rural areas. These activities enable small-scale producers to be more resilient in the face of climatic disasters, such as the cyclones that attack the eastern part of Madagascar each year.
About winner; Ikenna Nzewi
The grand prize in the male-led category went to computer scientist Ikenna Nzewi, of Releaf Africa in Nigeria.
Its value proposition is lowering food costs through efficiency, which it achieves with both software and hardware solutions. Returning six years ago to his home country of Nigeria after growing up and studying in the USA, Nzewi’s multi-pronged approach features geospatial software to find viable farms and a mobile platform to purchase oil palm fruit from rural small-holders.
To process the palm nuts in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way, Releaf designed the world’s most advanced palm nut de-sheller, named “Kraken”. So far, Releaf has worked with 5,600 farmers with a retention rate of 86% and put an additional USD 500,000 in their pockets while eliminating child labor, providing access to finance, and improving traceability using artificial intelligence. Releaf plans to add 20,000 more farmers in the next five years.
Strive Masiyiwa, Chair Emeritus of AGRA and Generation Africa founding member, expressed his admiration for the innovative spirit of all the young entrepreneurs taking part at this year’s AGRF Summit: “Our continent’s young agripreneurs are a testament to Africa’s innovative vision in action. I salute all our entrepreneurs, hailing from across Africa. The young men and women who competed in the live pitch competitions at the AGRF Summit this year are each winners for our continent, whether they received a prize on stage or not. We must continue to celebrate and support these amazing young people, most of whom designed innovative technology solutions to tackle both food system and environmental challenges while creating new businesses and jobs. Generation Africa’s agripreneurs are leading the transformative change that needs to happen across Africa’s agrifood sector.”
Amath Pathe Sene, Managing Director of the Africa Food Systems Forum, underscored the significance of amplifying youth-led businesses at the AGRF Summit,
“We bring together policymakers and industry leaders, so conversations can evolve into actionable solutions. Youth-led businesses like these impressive GoGettaz finalists belong in the conversation because their innovative ideas are pivotal to shaping the future food system.”
GoGettaz Social and Environmental Impact Award winners
The following entrepreneurs were honored with this year’s Social and Environmental Impact Awards.
Community development specialist Margaret Wanjiku, founder of Pollen Patrollers in Kenya, developed an IoT smart device to track beehive metrics that are analysed by AI to create actionable insights and precision pollination maps to help farmers more effectively pollinate their fields.
Hailing from Sierra Leone, electrical engineer Martin Dainbaquee, founder of Eco-friendly Incubator Company, designed an innovative high-capacity solar-powered incubator, its own chicken breeds, and high quality feed, tackling several needs in the egg and poultry industry including over-dependence on foreign imports.
A biotechnology specialist with expertise in plant tissue culture, the youngest finalist this year was Impact Award winner Crescentia Mushobozi of Tanzania Vijana Agribusiness Enterprises (VIABLE). Her company has developed a superior potato strain, engineered with Africa’s largest gene bank, in her vision to solve malnutrition and food insecurity. In the process, VIABLE involves thousands of Tanzanian youth in “making agriculture fun”.
Generation Africa founding member Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International, emphasized the urgency of youth efforts in food systems transformation and the essential role of young entrepreneurs, stating, “In the face of mounting food security challenges, it is imperative to revolutionize our food systems. Young entrepreneurs are the torchbearers of sustainable solutions. We are proud to support their endeavours in reshaping the future of food.”
Top 12 finalists
The twelve GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize finalists travelled from across Africa to pitch their businesses live on stage to nine GoGettaz Judges. For the fifth year in a row, the Grand Finale Pitch competition featured well-known international choreographer Sherrie Silver from Rwanda who dazzled the stage with young dancers from Tanzania and across Africa. An IFAD Advocate for Rural Youth, Silver also served as Generation Africa’s Master of Ceremonies throughout the week.
Along with online coaching, the twelve finalists received two days of in-person pitch training at the Summit. Additional networking sessions and facilitated participation in the AGRF Agribusiness Deal Room gave the youth-led businesses an opportunity to connect with future partners, investors, and collaborators.
Dickson Naftali, Head of Generation Africa, called on the youth to follow the example set by the GoGettaz agripreneurs, “If you want to make a real difference, to help people and build a healthier planet, the agrifood industry is where your energy will find purpose. The truth about our future is that we need an African food system that is African-owned and African-led. And we want to reach as many young Africans as we can with this message.”
The 2023 GoGettaz campaign reached almost 7 million people, bringing half a million visitors to the Generation Africa website and GoGettaz community platform. The fifth annual GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition received completed applications from 43 African countries, with 9 countries represented in the Top 12. Application data also shows an increase in female applicants this year. This is a very encouraging shift in an industry that is perceived as male dominated, while the reality of African food production is very much in the hands of women small-holder farmers.
With the conclusion of the Africa Food Systems Summit, the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition is also completed for the year. Applications for 2024 will open again in April/May next year. The industry-leading partners and sponsors of Generation Africa are proud of the exceptional innovation, dedication, and leadership displayed by all the young entrepreneurs who participated this year throughout the process. Coming into focus for the rest of 2023 are mentorship programmes, such as the Generation Africa Fellowship Programme, and the important work of reshaping national policies for better support of youth and women in agriculture. The new Generation Africa Online Academy was also launched at the Summit this week, in an exciting partnership with Microsoft which designed the platform.
2023 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize judges
- Marisa Soares – Senior Vice President Innovation & Impact – Yara International
- Dr. Kelley Cormier – Food Safety Division Chief – USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
- Jean Muthamia-Mwenda – Global Lead, Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship – SNV Netherlands
- Mildred Nadah Pita – Head Public Affairs Science & Sustainability Africa – Bayer AG
- Agnes Asiimwe Konde – Vice President – PID – AGRA
- Jubilate Lema – Senior Investment Analyst – Africa Opportunity Fund
- William Nyaoke – Regional Director East-Africa – Norfund
- Paul Newnham – Director – SDG 2 Advocacy Hub
- Wambui Chege – Director, Agriculture, PANA – The Mastercard Foundation