Scaling digital agriculture innovations: Startups selected for investment readiness program

Meet the 14 African startups selected for the GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Program kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya on 12-13 December 2019.

The “Scaling digital agriculture innovations through start-ups” (SAIS) project is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The objective of SAIS is to scale digital agritech innovations, developed by African startups, enabling their users in the agricultural or food sector to increase their income. In order to accomplish this, SAIS provides selected startups access to six months of fully-funded support for company development. This Investment Readiness Programme includes virtual coaching and training sessions with experienced growth managers from GreenTec Capital and Seedstars that target the needs of the selected startups and provide additional services where required.

Start-ups participating in the GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme:


Enabling farmers to sell their products directly through a distribution network made of supermarkets, processors, retailers and export companies, thereby unlocking the potential of agribusiness in Africa through smart supply chains.

Bringo Fresh Uganda

Reducing food-waste by planning clients’ orders of fresh quality produce from farmers and quick, on-time delivery.

Cookshop Food Services Liberia

On-demand marketplace that links local growers, food retailers, consumers, and advertisers in a digital finance ecosystem.

eMsika Zambia

One-stop-shop for multiple agriculture suppliers to buy and sell via an online marketplace and a call centre in an easy, affordable and convenient way.

FreshBox Rwanda Ltd. Rwanda

Portable, off-grid cold chain solutions to reduce post-harvest food loss, extending the shelf life of vegetables and fruits by up to 21 days.

Kitovu Technology Company Nigeria

Agritech startup that uses soil testing and market demand data to provide specific inputs to increase crop yields and access to markets.

Lentera Limited Kenya

Enabling farmers to adapt to climate change and increase their yields through precision agriculture, smart inputs and conservation agriculture.

Livestock 247 Nigeria

Mitigate the spread of zoonotic diseases through the provision of fit-for-slaughter and traceable livestock through an online market and listing platform.

Shopit South Africa

Digitizes informal grocery stores in low-income communities through a mobile app for the purchase of foods as well as price-comparison.

Upande Limited Kenya

Providing live performance data of assets, making it actionable to identify trends, make linkages with other data streams and provide integrated information to managers in the agritech businesses.

Zowasel Nigeria

Creating access to working capital and market for agribusinesses with an online commodity trading platform for grains and cash crops.

The selected startups made it through different rounds in the selection process. During the first round, 30 out of the more than 200 submitted applications were chosen. In the second round, these startups pitched their business virtually to a jury consisting of representatives from GIZ, corporations and company developers. From this virtual pitch, 14 startups representing different sectors such as e-commerce, internet of things, precision farming, supply chain management, fintech and animal health were nominated for the programme.

The launch of the 2019 programme took place in Nairobi, where the selected startups were able to meet not only with the SAIS team but also with their respective company developer. The first day was dedicated to getting acquainted with each other and networking. During this session, keynote speeches by representatives from the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Digital Africa Initiative provided valuable insights into growing Africa through entrepreneurship and attracting investors. The entrepreneurs were also given the opportunity to pitch their startup to the audience. This not only served as further practice for pitching in front of potential investors in the future but also laid the groundwork for networking with participants operating in a similar field.

The second day was committed to workshops for the entrepreneurs to work closely with their company developers, Seedstars and GreenTec Capital. Throughout this session, the entrepreneurs worked on establishing goals for their businesses to reach in the coming months. In order to reach these goals, the entrepreneurs will receive personalised virtual coaching from the company developers.

Attendees at the event showed tremendous enthusiasm and commitment, generating a wonderful atmosphere of working together. The experience was exceptionally positive and enriching for all participants.

The next event is planned for the second quarter of 2020, when the SAIS team, company developers and startups founders will meet again personally to discuss their progress in the program and future steps. The SAIS team is especially eager to work together with the African entrepreneurs in the coming months and is expecting great outcomes.