The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has launched the Agritech Challenge 2021 in its efforts to improve the financial health of smallholder farmers across Africa and Asia. The initiative has been organised in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rabo Foundation, Bayer, NITI Aayog and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The Agritech Challenge seeks to offer business support to agritech and agri-fintech start-ups by enabling them to build and scale their solution. It aims to help start-ups access new markets in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia in Africa, and Malaysia, India and Indonesia in Asia. Through mentorship, investor access, sector insights and innovation, the selected start-ups will have the opportunity to gain international expertise and grow their business. Beyond this, there will also be post-programme support along with the opportunity to be considered for a financial grant.
The Challenge welcomes applications from start-ups addressing at least one of the three identified chosen challenges facing smallholder farmers says the UNCDF website. These chosen challenges are low productivity, climate risk and inefficient supply chains. Applications will be verified against criteria including degree of innovation, sustainability, commercial viability, social impact, UN Sustainable Development Goals and organisational capacity and implementation.
Executive Director, Rural & Development Banking/Advisory, Rabobank, Arindom Datta, said: “Rabo Foundation is happy to support The Agritech Challenge, which is aligned with our focus on innovations in addition to traditional approaches to help develop a more self-reliant and shock responsive agriculture ecosystem that can address the issue of food security and also benefits the smallholder farmers” in a UNCDP press release.
Applications are open until 30th August 2021 and the successful cohort will be announced in September 2021. The Challenge will run from October 2021 to February 2022 and will culminate with a solution showcase of the start-ups.