By Paul Ndiho
June 30, 2012
At the second African Diaspora marketplace competition, seventeen African entrepreneurs in agribusiness, information technology and renewable energy were awarded grants to start or expand their business– and promote economic growth in north and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nearly 500 entrepreneurs’ submitted business plans to compete for a grant to invest in their business as part of the Africa Diaspora marketplace ii competition. The event featured forty-four finalists who competed for one million dollars in prizes. Seventeen were selected and walked away with fifty thousand dollar matching grants. US-AID, and the western union company jointly fund a-d-m ii.
Jeffery Jackson, senior private sector adviser at US-AID says the finalists’ initiatives ranged from software development in Ghana, to palm kernel processing in Nigeria, to poultry production in Kenya.
“The African Diaspora market place is a very innovative business plan competition where we are targeting members of the African Diaspora and others who are interested in African development.”
Alden zecha, C.F.O, of Spoxel, a previous winner of an ADM award. He was also one of the judges tasked with selecting the top twenty ventures, he explains the criteria.
“One was incredible passion, to see that they really believe in their idea and that they feel very strongly about it. Another aspect is commitment: Are they really committed to make sure that their project succeeds and are they willing to invest not just their time and energy but potentially some of their funds. Also looking at their knowledge and the research they’ve done.”
David Kiambati, a Nairobi-based agribusiness entrepreneur says he is looking to expand his business and become a regional player.
“Zero waste-based farming and essentially what you do is you take those organic fertilizers and put it right back in the land, you improve the yield from the land and you have more food crops for people to eat and also what you do is you can use those same organic food crops to feed the pigs have better quality pigs.”
Western union is a leader in global payment services and one of the partners who say they are constantly looking for creative ideas.
“We’re looking for innovative ideas. First of all, ideas in agribusiness, ICT or renewable energy that target really high growth, potential high growth areas on the continent of Africa. Really things that change, are new, really make agribusiness more efficient.”
Seyi Adeyinka of Riol farms, a Nigeria based livestock and crop production farm located in Ogun state, about 50 miles outside of Lagos, was one of the winners of a $50 thousand dollar grant. She says that Riol farms are committed to its customers, workers and its community.
“The $50,000 will enable us to do all of that right away and start embarking on the poultry production unit which will be very beneficial to us and also to the community because we will be employing more people in the local area.”
VOA’s Ndimyake Mwakalyelye, host of the event told the aspiring entrepreneurs that they should identify themselves as vehicles of change and that they could help put Africa on a very different path. To expand upon previous successes, the organizers invited Tony Elumelu of the Tony Elumelu foundation and award winning actor, Jeffery Wright, and founder of the Taia foundation. Elumelu, whose foundation is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa, says that Africans in the Diaspora need to team up with those on the continent to develop Africa.
“I’ve said many times that no one is going to develop Africa but ourselves, so Africans in Diaspora should see it as a learning phase, a phase to amass knowledge, expertise, experience exposure and take it that all these human capital acquisitions and assists would be nothing if they don’t play a role in the development of Africa.”
Last year’s ADM grantees are at the forefront of number innovative business enterprises Sub-Saharan Africa.