Esther Karwera, a Ugandan innovator and entrepreneur has been recognized among the six entrepreneurs who demonstrate the positive role women are playing in creating opportunities and preparing the region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The six winners have been invited to the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017, which is taking place in Durban, South Africa this week, to contribute their ideas on boosting entrepreneurialism across Africa.
Karwera has developed software platform that connects smallholder farmers into digital value chains, helping them sell directly to agribusinesses.
The software called Akorion was launched in 2015, and it has since developed a network of 42,000 farmers in Uganda.
Of these, 8000 farmers in Busoga region have received post-harvest storage equipment, 3500 farmers in Mubende currently being trained and receiving post-harvest equipment.
“Through our value chain digitization platform, EzyAgric, and our network of community-based agricultural service providers, village agents, we bridge the information and service delivery gap between farmers and agribusinesses,” reads a statement on the company’s website.
The company’s growth is supported by a network of village-based service providers, called Village agents - mainly young people, helping to address rural areas’ youth unemployment challenges.
Apart from market linkages, the company also offers digital profiling services, input sales, soil testing service, e-extension services and agriculture equipment leasing.
The other winners from the continent are:
Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja – from Nigeria
Her business of Fresh Direct has pioneered stackable container farms helping urban populations gain access to high-quality produce, reduce stress on land use and reduce the need to import vegetables.
The company says its organic urban farms use less water and land than conventional farming while producing a 15 times higher yield.
Temie Giwa-Tubosun – from Nigeria
Tubosun’s LifeBank is deploying the latest in digital supply chain thinking to deliver blood and other high value medical products to hospitals and health centres. Using predictive modelling to ensure health workers get the life-saving inputs they need.
Darlene Menzies - from South Africa
Her FinFind aims to remove a major bottleneck to Africa’s growth: helping SMEs and start-ups secure financing. By explaining and aggregating all sources of SME finance, the company has been able to improve entrepreneurs’ access to vital capital and help lenders’ identify a pipeline of quality loan leads.
Aisha Pandor - from South Africa
Pandor’s SweepSouth has created employment opportunities for 3,000 domestic cleaners since it was founded in June 2014. The business employs sophisticated algorithms to match its customers and ‘SweepStars’, creating flexible work opportunities and helping elevate the status of cleaners in South African society.
Charity Wanjiku – from Kenya
Wanjiku’s Strauss Energy’s proprietary solar roofing tiles are able to undercut conventional solar tiles by 30%. The company recently completed a pilot project at a secondary school where it was able to cut the power bill by 30%, ensure uninterrupted teaching of vital IT skills and provide students with captured fresh rainwater for the school’s vegetable garden.