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Heifer offers young agritech innovators mentoring pitch; $20,000 investment

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Heifer International’s AYuTe Africa Challenge on Monday launched a national competition which offers young entrepreneurs in Nigeria the opportunity to pitch for investment in their agritech solutions to boost the incomes and productivity of Africa’s smallholder farmers.

“This competition provides an opportunity for young innovators in Nigeria to secure the funding and visibility they need to scale up their agritech solutions to reach millions of farmers across Africa”, said Heifer International’s Senior Vice President of Africa Programmes, Adesuwa Ifedi. “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”.

The national competition represents a new phase of Heifer International’s AYuTe Africa Challenge, established in 2021 to award cash grants annually to the most promising young agritech innovators from across Africa. Like the Regional Champions competition, the AYuTe National Champions competition offers prize money and mentorship, helping translate the energy and ideas of young Nigerian agritech innovators into meaningful impact for smallholder farmers across the country, and supporting winners to grow their businesses and profile.

The new AYuTe National Champions competition focuses on youth-operated local startups that have launched an agritech business in the last three years. Companies must also be based in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda or Zambia; and have developed a tech solution to address smallholder farmer challenges with strong potential to scale.

The National competition in Nigeria has been initiated as an “enterprise development program to further identify, nurture and support innovative, relevant and technology-driven agric-centric enterprises to grow, scale and thrive”, according to Heifer’s Country Director, Rufus Idris while addressing the official launch of the Challenge, which held in Lagos last Wednesday.

“We are excited to announce and kick-start the AYuTe Africa Challenge Nigeria with a starting cash grant of $20,000 to the most promising young agritech innovator in Nigeria. This is in line with Heifer’s strategic goal of unleashing the hidden agricultural treasures among African youths.

“Through this challenge, we hope to further inspire the Nigerian youth population to continue to embrace agriculture as a career option of choice while promoting creative professionals that are using technology to re-imagine farming and food production across the country. The winner of this challenge will also be the Nigerian Champion (flag-bearer) for the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge,” Idris said

The launch event also brought together stakeholders within the ecosystem including government representatives, tech hubs and agripreneurs, who are relevant to supporting the development and scale-up of innovative, commercially viable and sustainable agricultural technologies, capable of transforming Nigeria’s agricultural sector and her food security.

Earlier at the launch event, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abiola Olusanya commended Heifer International for the great initiative of assisting to drive growth and development of Agriculture across Africa and particularly in Nigeria, by encouraging innovation and supporting programs geared towards accelerating agritech startups, youth-owned agribusinesses, and other business stakeholders along the agriculture value chain.

She expressed optimism that the initiative will serve as a catalyst for economic development in Nigeria and secure a greater future for the Nation.

The Challenge Competition, opened on last Wednesday for entry applications and will close by 16 September 2022. Interested participants are expected to register through the AYuTe Challenge portal.

Since 1944, Heifer International has worked with more than 39 million families around the world to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. Working with rural communities across Africa for 48 years, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income.

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