Five Kenyan entrepreneurs last week received Sh439,498 ($5,000) each to solve problems in the agriculture value chain. The Growth Hub, a Nairobi based high impact business accelerator is funding the entrepreneurs after a successful 16 week incubation programme to develop a prototype, pilot and launch their innovation in the market. In total 13 agribusiness start-ups joined the project in February from a pool of 321 applicants.
The 13 selected had the highest potential to create the most employment and income generating opportunities for youths and small holder farmers respectively. The innovators had one-on- one sessions with the Growth Africa team of experienced facilitators. “We are excited about our most recent graduates because they are well equipped and capable of achieving great milestones in 2014 while scaling their impact,” said Patricia Jumi The Growth Hub managing director.
The start-ups include Daluc Poultry, a poultry hatchery, breeding, feed mill and chick processing farm specialising in Kienyeji chicken. The team headed by Lucy Muiruri and Daniel Muiruri works with many small holder chicken rearing farmers. Although the Kienyeji free range chicken takes a bit longer to mature, they are cheaper to feed, fetch better market prices and are disease resistant thus suitable for rearing in East Africa.
Farm Lease; which puts effort in mobilising arable land for agricultural production and leases it out to small holder farmers to ensure more land is put to effective agricultural use, was another start-up that was picked. The team headed by Paul Njuguna, Elijah Mwathi and Collins Muriuki hopes to put more arable land into production thus boosting food security in the country. Kiara Agro; a family start-up led by Pinal Patel, Sneha Patel and Suresh Patel was selected for its work in using drought resistant crops to combat hunger.
It manufactures cassava flour and starch and is planning to venture into production of glucose syrup and alcohol from the cassava starch. The company sources cassava from the farmers in Ukambani, gives them better prices for their produce and income generating opportunities thus boosting production of drought resistant crops. Lamaco Engineering; which makes machines for use in sisal fibre processing and also provides farm-gate processing for value addition before sisal leaves the farm to the market was also selected for the programme.
By mobilising sisal farmers to meet the demand, Lamaco helps them meet the export market quality requirements, access markets and fetch better prices for their sisal. The team consists of Lawrence Matolo, Geoffrey Thoka and Patrick Mutinda Charles. The other start up is Garnet Enterprises, whose work in post harvest management in arid and semi arid regions, earned it accolades. Immediately after a bumper harvest farmers sell their produce at low prices due to lack of income, low market demand and proper storage facilities.
This is the problem that Garnet enterprises seeks to solve. Garnet currently mobilises farmers, gives them proper storage for their grain, and helps them market their produce locally and abroad. The team is made up of Linda Kithuku, Managing Director, Gerald Aluoch, Finance Director and Festus Ouko. Growthhub provides ambitious entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups with the resources they require to grow their ventures into strong commercial businesses and social enterprises.
Through the programmes start-ups get mentorship, business network, systems, processes and technology plus access to investors and funders. They strategically grow and accelerate high-impact, high-growth businesses that innovatively contribute to Africa’s social and economic progress. The start-ups GrowthAfrica work with have created 300 direct jobs and another 2,000 among suppliers and the extended value chain.