Kenyan, Nigerian agri-tech startups named winners of $1.5m AYuTe Africa Challenge

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Kenya’s Hello Tractor and Nigeria’s ColdHubs have been named winners of the inaugural AYuTe Africa Challenge, securing a combined US$1.5 million in grant funding to help fund rapid expansion plans.

The AYuTe Africa Challenge, run by Heifer International, announced the winners of its inaugural edition at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Summit. 

The winners, known as the 2021 AYuTe Africa Champions, were chosen from an impressive field of young agri-tech innovators from across the continent, and secured US$1.5 million in grants along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisers to help them translate their funding into an aggressive expansion strategy.

They were Kenya’s Hello Tractor, which provides technology that allows farmers to connect with local tractor owners on its marketplace and book a machine for as long as they need it, and Nigeria’s ColdHubs, which owns and operates dozens of compact, walk-in, solar-powered coolers at rural produce markets in central Nigeria. 

“Across Africa today, young, creative professionals are deploying tech innovations that are reimagining  farming and food production,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa Programmes at Heifer International. “We want to do our part to help companies like Hello Tractor and ColdHubs as they provide Africa’s smallholder farmers with much-needed products and services to develop sustainable, profitable business.” 

Hello Tractor founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Jehiel Oliver said his startup’s ambition was to be available across Africa, and winning the AYuTe Africa Challenge would help make that happen.

“The entire continent of Africa sees about 15,000 new tractors every year while India alone sees about one million. Our farmers clearly need a lot more tractors and Hello Tractor offers a proven pathway for increasing access to this important technology,” he said.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, CEO of ColdHubs, said he believed the support from Heifer and the AYuTe Africa Challenge would help his company expand the number of coolers it operates from 50 to about 5,000.

“Too many African farmers do not get the income they deserve because they have no way of keeping their produce fresh, forcing them to sell it soon after harvest. ColdHubs offers an affordable, pay-as-you go refrigeration option available right in the middle of local markets,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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