Three African startups were among the winners at the recent Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge, which offered funding to innovators meeting cold storage requirements for for fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products in off- and weak-grid areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Funded by UK Aid, the challenge was run as part of the Ideas to Impact programme, which designs and runs innovation prizes to incentivise contestants to solve challenges faced by the poor in low-income countries in Africa and South Asia. These include access to clean energy, water and sanitation, transport and climate change adaptation.
In June 2018, 10 companies were selected to progress to stage two of the challenge, with each given GBP10,000 (US$13,000) to help defray deployment costs of their cold rooms. Products underwent rigorous field-testing, with six finalists able to set up their cold storage units on location. Of these, only four could put their cold units to productive use.
Three out of those four were local startups, with Nigeria’s ColdHubs securing first place and taking home GBP75,000 (US$97,000). The judges selected ColdHubs as the 1st place solution primarily due to the impact the company’s cold rooms had on women farmers and market vendors. ColdHubs’ cooling as a service business model was identified as highly scalable and innovative.