10 African startups accelerating Africa’s adaptation and resilience to climate change have been selected by pre-seed Venture Capitalists (VC), Catalyst Fund to benefit from its $2 million investment into solutions to improve the resilience of climate-vulnerable communities in Africa.
The announcement was made today at the inaugural cohort of the new $30M VC fund of Catalyst Fund, anchored by the financial sector development agency FSD Africa. The fund is aimed at supporting early-stage founders to develop technology that will make Africa more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The startups selected include Nigeria’s Paddy Cover and Eight Medical, Kenya’s Octavia Carbon and Farm to Feed. Others include Egyptian VAIS and Bekia, Morocco’s Sand to Green, Senegalese Assuraf, and Uganda’s Agro Supply. The 10 startups were from 6 African countries.
These companies will join Catalyst Fund’s existing portfolio of 61 startups across emerging markets and receive capital, bespoke and expert-led venture-building support, and direct connections with investors, corporate innovators and talent networks that can help them scale.
In his statement, the Managing Partner of Catalyst Fund, Maelis Carraro expressed his excitement at partnering with these startups to solve one of Africa’s challenges threatening future existence and sustenance. He says:
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with ten groundbreaking African startups working to build a more resilient and sustainable future”
“Our goal is to back mission-driven founders that share our vision of a world where every individual has the tools and opportunities they need to thrive. From agtech to insurtech, waste management, disaster response, and carbon finance, these startups display finance, tech, and business model innovations that will help communities better adapt to climate impacts and grow their resilience”, he added.
Catalyst Fund’s portfolio companies have raised over US$640 million in follow-on funding to date, and currently serve more than 14 million individuals and MSMEs globally.
Each of these 10 startups will be offered $100K of equity investments and $100K of hands-on venture-building support. Here are the 10 startups.
Agro Supply (Uganda)
Agro Supply is a Ugandan mobile layaway system that helps farmers save money gradually using their mobile phones and to cash out to purchase farm inputs such as hybrid (drought-resistant) seeds, from maize to sorghum, sunflower and soybean during the planting season.
Founded in 2017, the idea of Agro Supply came from the vision to reimagine the way smallholder farmers in Africa were repaying their loans. Agro Supply was founded by Ogwal Joseph, who has worked in Uganda and Kenya with smallholder farmers for more than 5 years, developing a repayment plan for smallholder farmers before starting the company.
Assuraf is a Senegalese digital insurtech platform offering end-users access to a range of insurance products (e.g. agriculture, automotive, health, housing, natural disasters) from over 20+ insurance companies with a fully integrated claims management system.
In contemporary African societies where many people do not receive priority social protection services, the company takes satisfaction in its mission of developing a digital platform to democratize insurance.
Bekia is an Egyptian tech-enabled waste collection solution enabling companies and households to exchange their waste (plastic, paper, electronics, metals, cooking oil) against a financial incentive paid on a digital wallet.
Starting with 2 employees in 2017, Bekia has a staff strength of 25 today. The startup enhances the living standards of individuals by connecting them to their environment. Also, through the use of technology to find solutions for climate change, they make use of a partner business model.
Eight Medical (Nigeria)
Nigerian Startup Eight Medical, is a cloud-native Emergency Medical Services (EMS) platform that provides on-demand urgent care when and where it is needed. This “911 for Africa” connects emergency medical responders on motorcycles to users in distress in 10 minutes or less, including for climate-induced crises.
It is a network of pre-hospital care professionals that provide urgent and emergency care when it matters most. While ensuring universal healthcare access for Africans, it is building the largest online healthcare community, leveraging technology with a mobile-first approach.
Farm To Feed (Kenya)
Farm to Feed is a Kenyan food supply chain company that provides a digitally-enabled solution to food loss/waste. Their climate-smart solution focuses on providing a market for imperfect and surplus produce from farmers, contributing to food security and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
The all-women-led leadership team startup is leveraging its collective strength and diverse skill set to transform the perception of food waste and loss in East Africa. The company is headquartered in Nairobi.
Farmz2U (Nigeria, Kenya)
Farmz2U is an ag-tech enterprise driving sustainable agriculture in Kenya and Nigeria. Through Farmz2U, farmers can access personalized farming advice (especially on regenerative farming practices), affordable credit, quality and traceable inputs, and direct buyers for their harvest.
Founded in 2019, the company is developing solutions for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The vision it claims is to empower the next generation of Sub-Saharan African farmers with data, thereby enhancing food sustainability in the continent.
Octavia Carbon (Kenya)
Kenya’s Octavia Carbon is the Global South’s first Direct Air Capture (DAC) company building the world’s lowest-cost DAC hub. Octavia is building DAC machinery to capture carbon from the air for resale as carbon dioxide or carbon credits to off-takers.
Direct Air Carbon Capture (DACC) leverages technology to filter CO2 directly from the air, which can then be turned into rocks underground or used as an industrial gas to replace dirty fossil CO2. Because one car-sized DACC machine can absorb as much CO2 from the air as 10 hectares / 25 acres of forest.
Octavia Carbon’s mission is to leverage Kenya’s unique endowments to make the same happen for DACC.
Paddy Cover (Nigeria)
Nigeria’s Paddy Cover works with established insurers and digital platforms to design and offer bespoke products via their platform that facilitates flexible insurance packages, including health, life and, in the future, index-based crop insurance.
The offerings are built into the lifestyle touchpoints of the customer, either as a convenience or as complementary value-adds. It also innovatively takes the off-the-shelf products of underwriters and then works with them to create bespoke products ( to fit price and need) for its customers (who are aggregators).
Sand to Green (Morocco)
Moroccan startup Sand to Green transforms deserts into cultivable land using agroforestry methodology and a solar-powered desalination system to design climate-smart regenerative farms.
The company prides its mission on “cultivating the deserts to better feed the women and men of the world by preserving nature.”
VAIS is an Egyptian precision ag-tech startup committed to climate resilience and food security by providing data intelligence to farms via their FarmGATE application.
This is powered by proprietary artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML)-based virtual field probing (VFP) technology, enabling better water use and other farm inputs to produce better yields.
It was founded in 2020 as the culmination of many years of advanced R&D and practical project experience in visual computing, machine learning, remote sensing and big data engineering. VAIS is currently one of the leaders in precision agriculture and geospatial intelligence in Africa and the MENA region.
In the press statement, Juliet Munro, Director of Digital Economy at FSD Africa, explained that these companies are examples of the innovation that Africa needs to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.
“At FSD Africa, we believe that by harnessing the power of tech, and specifically fintech innovation, we can help to spur the development of climate resilience solutions for Africa, thereby helping deliver on COP27’s core themes of adaptation and implementation,”
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