Kenyan agri-tech startup WeFarm claimed second place at the recent Chivas Regal The Venture competition for social enterprises, walking away with US$200,000 in prize money.
Five social enterprises were then selected to win a share of the US$1million annual fund at their final event in New York, with WeFarm taking second place and walking away with US$200,000 for its peer-to-peer network for small-scale farmers, currently available in Kenya, Uganda and Peru.
Colombian startup Conceptos Plásticos took top prize, winning US$300,000 for its innovative technique for transforming plastic waste into construction material for permanent housing. Mobile communication device for “locked-in” patients EyeControl went home with US$100,000, as did handmade fashion accessories producer Wakami, while innovative healthcare cooling system Coolar won US$50,000.
“Everyone at WeFarm is absolutely thrilled to have finished second in The Venture global final,” said Kenny Ewan, chief executive officer (CEO) of WeFarm.
“We were up against so many inspiring social entrepreneurs so being the runner-up was a real achievement. In the next twelve months, our goal is to connect one million farmers to WeFarm and our US$200,000 prize money will certainly help.”
The other African finalists walked away empty handed. They were Nigerian agricultural production and processing company FreshDirect, Angolan company Habitec, which uses eucalyptus trees to produce desks, chairs and other wooden fittings for schools, and South Africa’s CrashDetech, a smartphone application that automatically detects a serious car crash.
South African fire detection startup Lumkani – which sells early warning fire detection systems for informal settlements – won US$75,000 at last year’s competition.
“It was truly a privilege to be part of the judging panel and watch the five finalists pitch for the remaining US$750,000 of funding. Businesses like Conceptos Plásticos and WeFarm are great examples of how innovative, passionate and forward-thinking the social entrepreneurship movement is,” said Pernod Ricard chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard.
“Chivas is proud to support the global community of businesses that are on a mission to make a positive change in the world – I look forward to seeing the impact of these projects in the future.”
Social enterprises from across the world are invited to apply for the next edition of the competition from September 5.