Agrocenta, the startup which is tackling food access and stock flow issues across Ghana communities, won up to $500,000 in equity investment and some unique growth opportunities at the Seedstars Summit 2018.
Seedstars World, the biggest startup competition focused only in emerging markets, closed its fifth edition with a huge celebratory Seedstars Summit. After covering 65+ countries during 2017, Seedstars invited and sponsored the coming of 65+ local startup winners to Lausanne, Switzerland, where they had the chance to compete for different prizes, up to $1mn in equity investment and the title of Seedstars Global Winner.
Francis Obirikorang founded Agrocenta having in mind to create an online sales platform that could connect smallholder farmers directly to an online market which has wider geographic size to sell their commodities. According to Pierre-Alain Masson, co-founder at Seedstars, “Agrocenta won this prize because of the disruption they are creating in the farming industry. It’s very important that investors know that talent is everywhere and that the way startups and tech entrepreneurs in emerging markets are addressing the underlying social challenges in their home countries, be it agriculture or access to finance, basic education, healthcare or energy supply is a tremendous business trend and opportunity.”
Much more than a conference, the Seedstars Summit is an opportunity for stakeholders in impact investment, tech and entrepreneurship in and from emerging markets to network and profit from a unique hands-on growth experience. Startups participated in a two-day bootcamp; a private Investor Forum where they had the chance to pitch to be considered one of the 12 finalists to compete on the main stage and attended more than 700 one-on-one sessions with investors. On the Summit Day, the finalist startups pitched on the main stage in front of more than 1,000 hand-picked participants, investors, startup enthusiasts and some of the most prominent names of tech and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. The jury, an international panel which included Benjamin Benaïm, from Seedstars, Nikunj Jinsi and Theta Capital Group decided that this year’s investment will go to Agrocenta from Ghana.
For Francis Obirikorang, “winning at the Seedstars Summit will have an enormous impact in my company’s growth and success for the next years. I am sure that, just like other previous winners, it will open funding, learning and growth opportunities. In emerging economies, we lack not only the infrastructure, but also access to some fundamental tools like networking and mentoring. Seedstars team is spreading the word about our talent and ideas to their international network dedicated to impact investment and I know I’ll be able to profit from this. Can’t wait to start building on this momentum!”
On top of the $500,000 investment prize for the Seedstars Global Winner, Seedstars and its partners awarded 7 additional prizes:
- EDVES, from Nigeria, was awarded the Transforming Education Prize, by TRECC (Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities) and School of Management Fribourg (HEG Fribourg), winning access to the Seedstars Growth Program worth $50,000.
- Finchat Technologies, from Singapore, won the BBVA Open Innovation Prize, receiving an opportunity to participate at their annual BBVA Open Summit in Madrid and network with the most relevant players from their international fintech network
- Solar Freeze, from Kenya, was the winner of the Africa Energy Prize by Enel X, which rewards the startup for its innovative solution to provide solar-powered cold storage units to smallholder farmers with no need for grid connection in Sub-Saharan Africa. Solar Freeze won access to a three-month programme worth $50,000 in acceleration services.
- EMGuidance, from South Africa, was awarded the Health Tech prize by Merck. The prize combines joining Merck Accelerator with financial support of up to €50,000 and office space at the Merck Innovation Center, mentoring, and coaching.
- TAG Heuer, Seedstars World official time keeper, decided to partner with Seedstars Summit to highlight the role of women entrepreneurs in their own ecosystems and awarded Medsaf, from Nigeria, the Best Woman Entrepreneur prize.
- Alquilando, from Argentina, won the Time Saviour Prize, by TAG Heuer, for their solution to simplify rental process, minimize risk and guarantee rent payments on time, considered to be the one which allows users to save more time of their lives.
- Innovation Prize, also by TAG Heuer, was awarded to CMED, from Bangladesh.
- Public Prize: one of the highlights of the day is when the public gets to vote for its favourite startup. This year, the Office for Economic Affairs (SPECo) has decided to power it by bestowing the winner, Junkbot Robotics, with a premium gift from Veuve Clicquot, a company from Switzerland and all the support from Canton de Vaud in the future.
The 12 finalist startups were:
- CMED, finalist startup from Bangladesh
- Celcoin, finalist startup from Brazil
- Agrocenta, finalist startup from Ghana
- Junkbot Robotics, finalist startup from United Arab Emirates
- Redcapital, finalist startup from Chile
- Payit, finalist startup from Mexico
- calls, finalist startup from Ukraine
- GiftedMom, finalist startup from Cameroon
- KarGo, finalist startup from Myanmar
- Medsaf, finalist startup from Nigeria
- SayurBox, finalist startup from Indonesia
- EMGuidance, finalist startup from South Africa
It is known that Switzerland is, by many metrics, the most innovative country in the world and
Vaud is contributing a lot to this status quo. A quarter of the 100 top Swiss startups is based in the
Canton, including 6 of the 10 top best ones in 2017, as well as about 2,000 high-tech companies. For Raphäel Conz, Head of the Office for Economic Affairs (SPECo), “Supporting Seedstars is perfectly aligned with our vision to promote entrepreneurship, which ultimately provide society with new solutions and more job opportunities and will eventually shape a sustainable economic development.”
Besides the Office for Economic Affairs, Seedstars’ mission counts with the support of great partners: Innovaud, CVCI (Chambre Vaudoise du Commerce et de l’Industrie), Enel X, School of Management Fribourg (HEG Fribourg) & TRECC, Merck KGaA, UNFPA, Tag Heuer, BBVA Open Innovation, Continental, EPFL (École Polytéchnique de Lausanne), City of Lausanne, Region of Lausanne, Swisscom and Nespresso. Together, Seedstars and its partners have been impacting billions of lives in emerging markets successfully for 5 years now and it will not stop here. Seedstars has just been awarded, by the Yangon Innovation Gonvernment (Myanmar), the opportunity to manage the Yangon Innovation Centre, playing an important role in the development of the startup ecosystem in the region along with its partner Thura Swiss.