Accra, Ghana, 12 September 2019 – Two young entrepreneurs, Isaac Sesi of Sesi Technologies (Ghana) and Bonolo Monthe of Maungo Craft (Botswana), have been named as winners in the inaugural $100,000 Generation Africa GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, a new competition to select two innovative ventures, one led by a man and one by a woman, who founded or co-founded businesses in the agri-food sector across Africa.
From an initial pool of nearly 3,000 online applicants from 39 African countries, the finalist ventures stood out for their comprehensive business ideas, inspiring pitch videos, and strong telephone interviews conducted by a panel of judges who looked specifically for 1) innovation; 2) market potential and traction; 3) impact (social and environmental); 4) business model (scalability and financial sustainability) and 5) management team and presentation.
Sesi and Monthe were selected as winners from amongst top finalists drawn from 10 African countries. Founded in 2017, Maungo Craft works with oil producers and communities to turn underused indigenous fruits of Botswana into gourmet low-to-no-sugar preserves. Monthe’s co-founders are Olayemi Aganga and Taunyane Motseoeme.
Monthe was inspired to start her business when she saw morula fruit rotting all around town, believing the abundant indigenous fruit was valuable. Morula was underused for the fruit whilst the oil was used by cosmetic companies. It takes approximately 300 tonnes of fruit to get 12 tons of oil, so, she remarked, “I thought to myself, what happens to all of this fruit?” She and her co-founders did research and discovered that the inability to use the fruit hampers the growth of the gourmet preserves industry, thus she founded Maungo Craft which has since won 10 awards and were the first food company from Botswana to display at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, and has many partnerships in progress for both local and export markets.
Sesi Technologies Limited is an agritech company, tackling poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa by empowering farmers and businesses along the agricultural value chain with affordable technologies (currently GrainMate and FarmSense) to help reduce losses, increase productivity, yield and profits. His co-founder is Joseph Akowuah. Isaac Sesi was recently named by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) 2019 Technology Review as one of the world’s top innovators under 35.
“Our solutions seek to reduce post-harvest losses in grains and increase agricultural yield,” said Sesi in his competition application. “According to the World Bank, 112 million tonnes of grain is produced in sub-Saharan Africa annually with up to 40% suffering post-harvest losses. One way to reduce contamination is to measure the exact moisture in grains before storage to maintain the right moisture level. Their solution was GrainMate, an easy to use and affordable moisture tester. They also have another innovation called FarmSense which helps determine the pH, nutrients and moisture level in the soil before cultivation.
“New technologies hold enormous potential in transforming agriculture and creating jobs for youth in the sector. Through new technologies, new companies can be created for the agriculture value chain to create new jobs for youth on the continent,” noted Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International.
So far, the GoGettaz agripreneurship campaign has reached over 50 million young people across the continent since its launch on May 30. Co-catalyzed by Econet and Yara International, and first mooted in Davos in early 2019, the Generation Africa partnership initiative has already inspired several other global players to join the vision to support and inspire young entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across the continent.
“Having been an entrepreneur for the last 33 years, I fully appreciate what each of the entrepreneurs had been through just to get on that stage,” said Strive Masiyiwa, founder and Chair of Econet Global (and Chair Emeritus of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa). The same night, Masiyiwa was awarded the Dr Norman Borlaug World Food Prize medallion by Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation.
“I believe with an investment and support for each one of them, we could easily create 10,000 jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenues for their nations and the continent. Some of these businesses (including those that did not win) are going to be very big one day, mark my words!” said Masiyiwa.