DUBAI, December 5, 2023 – Eight dynamic African young women-led enterprises emerged as winners of the 2023 YouthAdapt challenge. Each enterprise will receive grant funding of up to US$ 100,000 to boost their work.
They will also receive a comprehensive mentorship and coaching as part of a 12-month accelerator programme. Since its launch in 2021, the YouthADAPT initiative has provided more than US$ 5 million to 33 young entrepreneurs from 19 African nations.
Jointly organised by the African Development Bank Group and the Global Center on Adaptation, supported by the Africa Climate Change Fund, YouthADAPT is an annual competition for young entrepreneurs leading micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in Africa with innovative climate change adaptation solutions.
This year’s focus was on female-owned enterprises pioneering Fourth Industrial Revolution [4IR] technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, virtual reality, robotics, Internet of Things, quantum computing, additive manufacturing, blockchain, and fifth-generation wireless for climate adaptation.
Speaking at the ceremony held on the side lines of COP28 in Dubai, President of the African Development Bank , Dr Akinwumi Adesina emphasised the importance of harnessing youth ideas and creativity to enhance livelihoods and national prosperity.
Adesina said: “The Jobs for Youth in Africa and the Skills Employability initiatives at the Bank stand as a testament to our commitment to create 25mln jobs for our youth, ensuring that 250mln individuals find their path to the labour market. The Youth ADAPT initiative is a pledge to invest in the youth and shape a thriving future.”
Professor Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, stressed the need to nurture Africa’s youth talent. “Young people hold the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential. Through initiatives like the YouthADAPT awards, we provide opportunities for training and jobs to retain African talents at home.”
During a panel discussion, Cheryl Urban, Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Sub-Saharan Africa, spoke about the critical role of development finance institutions can play. “The African Development Bank’s YouthADAPT programme provides crucial support in scaling up youth-led climate businesses and innovations in Africa. Canada is proud of being a contributor to the initiative.”
Dr Beth Dunford, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, stressed the importance of supporting entrepreneurs tackling climate change. She also emphasised the need to remove barriers to finance, particularly for women.
The African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Cleopatra Mpemba, underscored the need to foster effective information-sharing mechanisms across regions.
Lucy Wangari, one of this year’s award recipients from Onion Doctor, a firm specialized in monitoring onion growth, said the award would motivate her to do more. “It serves as a significant driver in scaling (our) innovative solution to boost local onion production by 20 percent and transform the onion value chain into a lucrative employment source for farmers in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid Lands.”
Past winners shared experiences about how the grant empowered their ventures. Fela Akinse, CEO of Salubata—a business converting plastic waste into affordable footwear, emphasised how the grant is propelling their business expansion and innovation of clean technologies, and helping them to generate global impact.
The winning ventures, led by women from across Africa, focus on sectors affected by climate change: agriculture, energy efficiency, disaster risk management, water resources, and biodiversity conservation.
Full list of winners:
Deborah Nzarubara, ETS Grencom, Democratic Republic of Congo: Leveraging big data, ETS Grencom provides real-time weather data, bolstering agricultural productivity and supporting pollinating bees for sustainable farming practices.
Mirriam Chapi, Chapi Core Tech, Zambia: Through the EaseOn Track app, Chapi Core Tech has empowered over 5,000 women farmers, facilitating clean energy adoption and enhancing agricultural output.
Eddah Wanjiru, Arinifu Technologies, Kenya: The Smart Brooder & Kuku Smart innovation utilise Internet of Things technology, offering poultry solutions and operational insights, benefitting Kenya’s farming community.
Fatoumata Diaby, Jeune Agro-Innovatour, Mali: Jeune Agro-Innovatour’s E-Compost software transforms invasive water hyacinth into premium compost, championing sustainable agricultural practices.
Beth Koigi, Majik Water Technologies, Kenya: Majik Water Technologies pioneers atmospheric water harvesting, providing vital water resources to drought-stricken farming communities in Kenya.
Lucy Wangari, Onion Doctor, Kenya: Using the Internet of Things and machine learning, Onion Doctor Limited monitors onion crops, optimising sustainability and profitability for Kenyan farmers.
Daniella Ushindi Viruvuswagha, ETS Chemchem Agro, DRC: Their ApiConnect app employs Machine Learning for strategic beehive placement, significantly boosting honey production in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Stephanie Meltus, Green Eden Farms, Nigeria: Green Eden Farms utilise Scaregrow technology to offer real-time insights, enhancing productivity and resilience in Nigerian agriculture.
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