The four winners are participating this week in Mobile Startup Camp and a concluding pitching contest in front of angel investors and industry experts in Washington, D.C. The Startup Camp, organized by infoDev, a global innovation program in the World Bank Group, is designed to accelerate the growth of early-stage entrepreneurs.
The four winning ventures are Farmerline from Ghana which uses voice and SMS to collect data, share new techniques, and better link smallholder farmers to others along the agricultural value chain; Intellect Tech from Kenya which helps farmers and insurance firms track compensation claims in real-time; Price Calculate from Kenya, an app that aids agricultural producers to calculate the competitive price at which they can offer their products; and mLouma from Senegal, which connects farmers to food purchasers by displaying real-time market prices and localizations.
“The competition unearthed very interesting applications” , remarked Arjun Thomas, Global Product Manager for Nokia Life, and member of the jury consisting of mobile sector experts and angel investors. “As these startups grow, adapting the business case to ensure steady and versatile revenue generation streams will be critical to their success."
The combination of agriculture and mobile technology seems a winning one. Today, there are close to 900 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa. Mobile innovations are already improving efficiencies in the agricultural value chain; research shows that grain traders with mobile application usage experienced income growth of 29% and banana farmers in Uganda saw their revenues go up with 36%.
The mAgri Challenge winners, along with 14 more high-potential and innovative startups from infoDev’s mobile incubation network, are participating in the five-day program of lectures and hands on workshops to refine their business models and marketing pitches, sharpen their negotiating skills and network with investors and peers. The Startup Camp is supported by the government of Sweden.
“Many apps competitions have ended with the award of prizes, missing the chance to continue to support talented entrepreneurs as they develop their businesses,” says Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager, explaining the idea behind Startup Camp. “We want to support mobile technology entrepreneurs as they take their products from the idea stage to a point of sustainable growth.”
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