Friday March 11 2016

Four youth-owned enterprises to represent Uganda

Julius Mabuya (R) talks to a visitor at the

Julius Mabuya (R) talks to a visitor at the exhibition. COURTESY PHOTO  

By Beatrice Nakibuka

Four Ugandan enterprises have been selected to proceed to the final round of the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair due in May.

They will be joined by 12 Kenyan Start-ups and SMEs, six from Tanzania, five from Rwanda, two from Ethiopia and one from Burundi for a chance to win USD 20,000 (Shs67 million), which will be awarded to the top six finalists as seed capital.

The competitors aged between 18-35 years, were part of the 120 successful applicants of the Young Innovators in Agribusiness 2015 Competition drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia in the competition’s Startups and SMEs category and underwent training at the Toyota Academy (Nairobi) in October and December. Ninety of the 120 enterprises moved to the next stage which ended last month culminating in the selection of the top 15 startup and 15 SMEs.

The enterprises fell under the production, manufacture, value addition, marketing, innovation, knowledge transfer and agribusiness linkage lines.

The current competition’s main focus is to equip youth with skills to establish and run sustainable enterprises along agricultural value chains.

After the training, contestants made a seven-minute presentation and exhibited their products to judges who were drawn from the business community and organisations that play a key role in the agricultural value chains.

The competitors
Noah Sempijja’s YICE Uganda start–up works with farmers in rural villages in Mubende, Mityana and Kasese districts. With a network of Local Farm Agents, YICE Uganda facilitates farmers’ access to bundled agricultural services at various levels of the farming value chain, including seed sourcing and access to farm loans.

On the SME side, Julius Mabuya’s Indigenous Micro-Organisms (Imo) Technology produces indigenous microorganisms (IMO) used mainly in the Livestock sector to deworm, boost the immune system, reduce feed costs, eliminate foul smell in pigs, help in the synthesis of fungi feed for pigs and remove ammonia in fish ponds.
Ronald Sssenfuka’s Josmak International (U) Ltd reduces pumpkin waste by processing it into Pumpkin Juice, Pumpkin Wine, Pumpkin powder, Pumpkin roasted seeds, Pumpkin Ginger tea spice and Pumpkin peanut butter among others.

Econi Carl Peter’s Solution International Ltd is an agricultural technology based company primarily focusing on inventing and innovating mechatronic and information technology solutions to agricultural problems.

“The products include The Enkokotronic, which is a fully automated robotic chicken egg incubator enhanced by a mobile phone app, which implements daily hatching of eggs; the Agri-Net: a mobile and web-based agricultural product marketing platform; the Hydro-net - a soil fertility and irrigation management system administered by a mobile phone app and the FishApp, a mobile phone app operated fish detection technology,” Econi said.

The Young Innovators in Agribusiness competition, according to the organisers , follows a similar successful agribusiness competition in 2014 that attracted over 800 participants from sub-Saharan Africa as well as the participation of Young Innovators in Agribusiness at the 2015 Africa Green Revolution Forum in Zambia.

This year’s edition is made possible by the USAID-supported East Africa Trade and Investment Hub; Syngenta; Inter-Region Economic Network and Toyota Kenya Academy.