Jehiel Oliver, is the founder and chief executive officer of Hello Tractor.
A Kenyan company that has become famous across Africa as the
‘Uber of tractors’. They were one of the two winners of the inaugural $1.5 million competition.
The company won the Ksh165 million Heifer International AYuTe African Challenge.
The other winner is Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, the founder and CEO of
ColdHubs. This is a Nigerian business that provides solar-powered walk-in coolers for smallholder vegetable farmers.
According to the organisers, the two emerged winners in an
impressive field of young agri-tech innovators from across the continent.
The announcement was made at a ceremony during the 2021
African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Summit.
“Across Africa, young, creative professionals are deploying
tech innovations that are reimagining farming and food production,”
said Mr Adesuwa Ifedi. He is the senior vice-president of Africa programmes at
The two winners of the Heifer International AYuTe African Challenge
The two companies will receive a sizeable monetary investment in a
total of $1.5 million in grants. Furthermore, ongoing support from a
team of expert advisers. This will feature accomplished business veterans to help
them translate their funding into an aggressive expansion strategy.
Hello Tractor provides technology that allows farmers to connect
with tractor owners on their application. In addition, the Hello Tractor marketplace allows farmers to book a machine for as long as they need it.
“The entire continent of Africa sees about 15,000 new tractors every
year while India alone sees about one million. Our farmers clearly need
a lot more tractors and Hello Tractor offers a proven pathway for this.” said Jehiel Oliver.
For its part, ColdHubs owns and operates dozens of compact, walk-in,
solar-powered coolers at rural produce markets in central Nigeria.
Additionally, the transportable, stand-alone units give local farmers a way of
keeping their produce fresh and reducing waste.
“Too many African farmers do not get the income they deserve
because they have no way of keeping their produce fresh. ColdHubs offers an affordable,
pay-as-you go refrigeration option available right in the middle of
local markets,” noted Mr Ikegwuonu.
With the new support, his firm will be able to grow from 50 to about 5,000
ColdHubs across West Africa and improve farmers efficiency.
A recent report by Heifer International has highlighted the need for investments to encourage African youth to turn to agriculture. Additionally, to have them reconsider opportunities in the sector. Especially given the need to generate jobs and repair food systems battered by the pandemic.