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Three African startups win Heifer International’s $1.5m agritech challenge



Three African tech startups from Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana, have won the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge which supports agritech innovators.

The challenged which was organized by Heifer International, selected the three startups, ThriveAgric from Nigeria, Kenya’s DigicCow and Botwana’s Brastorne Enterprises, having successfully built technologies to improve agricultural practices and production in their respective countries.

The three companies will receive a total of $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.

The competition which was launched in 2021, had thrown up a challenge to African youths to bring innovations that provide positive disruption useful to farmers in the continent.

While making the announcement on Wednesday, the Senior Vice President of Africa Programs at Heifer International, Adesuwa Ifedi, said the challenge came at “a time when Africa is facing unprecedented food-related challenges.”

“It is incredibly inspiring to see these young African startup champions firmly focused on an agriculture-led future that provides farmers with the innovations they need to succeed,” Ifedi said.

A breakdown of the three startups shows that Nigeria’s ThriveAgric addresses the lack of access to finance, technical advice, business skills, and market opportunities.

The company has a team of 2,000 field agents that support nearly 500,000 farmers across 22 Nigerian states with insights that help them improve production and profits.

Nairobi-based DigiCow helps small-scale African dairy operations increase productivity with technology that provides free access to livestock management experts and links farmers to skilled and qualified veterinarians, artificial insemination providers and feed supply services—all from their mobile phones.

Botwana’s Brastorne Enterprise uses technology to give farmers access to farming information, markets and short-term finance using the capabilities of any feature phone, such as SMS and interactive voice technology.


Critical digital-skill gap hindering Morocco’s drive to be Africa’s Tech destination hub, experts say



Participants at the ongoing Huawei Talk currently ongoing in Casablanca, Morocco, has blamed a 15-year gap in the country’s digital strategy as an hindrance to its ambitions of becoming a regional tech hub.

The keynote speaker at the event, Nabil Ouchagour, Huawei’s Chief Brand Officer, in his speech, argued that the lack of qualified labor is one of four major challenges facing Morocco on its journey to becoming a digital nation.

“While Morocco is currently on the run to become a regional tech hub, the country lags behind in terms of qualified labor,” the Huawei executive said on Saturday.

The event which tech brings experts to deliberate on key issues facing Morocco’s transition to a digital economy, are deliberating on Morocco’s critical digital-skill gap which is seen as an emerging core challenge facing the country’s ambitions to host tech-related business activities.

“In many universities, the skills that are being taught will be obsolete soon,” Ouchagour noted, suggesting that Morocco’s digital-skill gap is the core challenge facing the country’s ambitions to host tech-related business activities.

“Developing connectivity, data treatment capability, decarbonization are equally crucial to support this transition,” he added.

Citing research commissioned by Huawei in 2021, the executive argued that Morocco needs to focus on adapting its education system to the fast-moving digital world.

“The country should equally focus on training individuals capable of adapting and acquiring new skills as they enter the job market.”

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Egypt’s ed-tech startup, Almentor, secures $10m funding to accelerate expansion into MENA region



Egyptian ed-tech startup, Almentor, a leading online video Arabic learning platform, has announced securing a $10 million pre-Series C round funding to help it accelerate growth into other MENA regions.

The CEO and co-founder of Almentor, Ibrahim Kamel, who made the disclosure on Friday, said with the funding, the platform is on the verge of achieving its goal of serving 10 million learners in the MENA region.

“Almentor aims to serve 10 million learners across the MENA region, and with the a $10 million pre-Series C funding from e& capital, the tech investment arm of e&. e& capital, and other investors like Partech, Sawari Ventures, Egypt Ventures, Sango Capital and Endure Capital, we are on the verge of getting there,” Kamel said.

“Empowering 10 million learners is a key milestone in Almentor’s broader vision of creating hope and development opportunities for the people in MENA.”

Founded in 2016, Almentor has worked with more than 950 prominent experts to create over 1,000 online courses for individuals, corporations, and government entities, combining a personalised learning experience with high-quality Arabic content.

With a choice of monthly or annual subscription, learners get unlimited access to a library of over 700 courses on topics as diverse as health, humanities, technology, entrepreneurship, business management, lifestyle, drama, sports, corporate communication, and digital media.

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