Call for applications: The 2014 GrowthHub AgriBusiness for Innovation Incubator in Nairobi

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Are you an entrepreneur and/or an innovator with a mature agribusiness idea?
The GrowthHub Agribusiness for Innovation Incubator programme, based in Nairobi, invites 12 Agribusiness start–ups with mature ideas to work together with facilitators, mentors and like mined entrepreneurs in the same environment for 16 weeks. Do you fit the requirements? Apply at www.GrowthHub2014.com!

The 2014 GrowthHub – Agribusiness for Impact incubator and accelerator programme is designed to equip entrepreneurs with the most innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems faced in agriculture to take their idea and build it into an innovative product or service that creates both financial and social impact. The programme consists of a cohort of 12 for-profit teams that are operating in any stage of the agricultural value chain other than actual farming.

Why the GrowthHub?

The GrowthHub incubates and accelerates East African start-ups to deliver sustainable business growth, create employment and contribute to social progress. The first GrowthHub is situated in the business district of Kilimani, Nairobi and has office facilities for its entrepreneurs who are part of the various incubator and accelerator cohorts it runs, as well as training and meeting facilities. The GrowthHub is a part of GrowthAfrica, a group of companies that includes GrowthAfrica Consulting, GrowthAfrica Management, GrowthAfrica Capital and GrowthAfrica Ventures. Their goal is to have 20 hubs throughout Eastern Africa within the next 5 years, focusing on locally relevant technologies, products and services.

“We are entrepreneurs ourselves who have started over 20 companies, some of which have failed and others that have succeeded,” says Patricia Jumi, Managing Director at The GrowthHub. She expands, “As a result, we understand what an early stage entrepreneur goes through to get their business from one stage to the next. We are a good choice for entrepreneurs because we understand the marketplace and can accelerate their businesses.” To this end the GrowthHub uses, among other things, learning tools and exercises that allow entrepreneurs to get an overview of their start-up and needed actions, while at the same time facilitating feedback from mentors, advisers and peers. The GrowthHub focuses on “ambitious, dedicated and committed entrepreneurs with scalable business concepts with a view to create quality employment opportunities.”

Companies incubated or facilitated at Growth Africa include ShopSoko, Dinero Limited, Zege Technologies, SOLARKIOSK, Jooist, Kytabu, Kola Studios and many others. Several companies incubated or facilitated at Growth Africa have successfully raised money, including Shop Soko, Takamoto Biogas, Lipisha, Ecofuels, Access Afya, E-health Net, Iprocure, Jooist, Uhiredme, Evesmama, Study in Kenya, Jua kali, Livespot, and more. On the GrowthHub website you can see the full overview of alumni entrepreneurs and startups.

Why Agribusiness for Innovation?

Africa’s agricultural potential is enormous and the population is still very dependent on it both for food and for income – 70% or more than 750 million people are directly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and survival. Yet committing to agriculture rarely offers a sustainable way out of poverty. Some of the key reasons for this are poor farming practices due to lack of knowledge or access to proper technologies, wrong choice of crop, poor access to affordable farming inputs and lack of sales or distribution channels, too few or little local value addition to farming outputs (agro-processing), imperfect market knowledge and market manipulation by middlemen.

Patricia Jumi stresses this can be changed by entrepreneurs building for-profit companies addressing Africa’s agriculture agenda in innovative ways: “GrowthAfrica has over the past decade worked with entrepreneurs across eastern Africa, and has observed that there are capable and committed entrepreneurs who are motivated and driven as much by their social results as by their commercial results. Combining commercial practice and a social agenda can create a sustainable model for impacting change at a grassroots level.”

The incubator is created to support these entrepreneurs, she concludes: “The challenge for this band of social entrepreneurs is that they have very little support in the early stages of their start-up experience. Soft money, e.g. grants, are hard to come by for social entrepreneurs and investors are only interested once there is a solid proof-of-concept or a clear path to financial sustainability. The GrowthHub Agribusiness for Innovation Incubator will focus on helping this group of entrepreneurs who can take agriculture to the next level by providing solutions along the value chain.”

The GrowthHub’s Programme Structure

The 2014 GrowthHub Agribusiness for Impact incubator programme is a 16 week resident programme in Nairobi, Kenya, with 3 parts:

– Part 1 – comprises 8 sessions that run within 4 weeks where the teams will be taken through a framework to move from an idea to a start-up.

– Part 2 – runs for 2 weeks, the teams plan their market testing and prototyping – and 5 selected teams receive up to 5,000 USD each.

– Part 3 – runs for a 10 week period, where the 5 teams execute and implement their plans.

Eligibility

To be eligible the GrowthHub asks you to have:

  • – A mature idea that you have already thought through within Agribusiness
  • – Achieved customer validation and proof of concept from your targeted audience
  • – You want to build a sound product/service and pilot it thereafter
  • – You have team members or intend to have. We prefer start-ups that are more than one person
  • – You and your team members must be working full time on this venture
  • – You are a registered for profit company or intend to be

APPLICATION PROCESS

VC4Africa is managing the applications process for this program. Interested applicants can apply at www.GrowthHub2014.com. Please make sure you include team members and all relevant documents and information to show you meet the requirements. The deadline for registration is January 9th, 2014, at midnight (Nairobi time).

After receiving the applications the GrowthHub team will host Skype calls and in person interviews to determine the 12 companies.

KEY DATES

Activities Start End
Receiving Applications December 5 2013 January 9 2014 at Midnight
Information Session* December 16 2013 December 16 2013
Selection Process January 10 2014 January 24 2014
Programme Sessions February 17 2014 March 17 2014
Pilot Pitch Planning March 18 2014 March 31 2014
Pilot Fest April 11 2014 April 11 2014
Pitch Execution April 14 2014 May 23 2014

* In the information sessions you can ask all the questions to which you need answer to before submitting your application.

If you fit the above criteria or know of anyone who fits these criteria and would be interested in participating in this programme, please ask them to apply at www.GrowthHub2014.com – and you/they can also find more information at www.thegrowthhub.com/agribusiness

In case of difficulties submitting the application or other questions, please contact thomas@vc4a.com at VC4Africa for support.