Investment Opportunities at the African Green Revolution Forum
At the beginning of 2020, Rwandese Moses Katala’s insect technology firm was just taking off. Then, unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, throwing Katala’s plans into a tailspin.
MagoFarm, his insect technology firm, breeds the black soldier fly as an alternative protein ingredient for animal feed. The company primarily targets manufacturers of chicken and pig feed formulations.
Operating as a startup with little equipment and cash flow, the company would have suffered adverse consequences during lockdown but was saved when the 23-year-old won half of the $100,000 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize.
“The 2020 edition of the GoGettaz competition was a tremendous opportunity for us to reflect on our business, build connections with other entrepreneurs and raise capital to expand our business. The competition came at a time when we needed it the most. Struggling with the effects of COVID-19, it gave us an opportunity to widen our networks and stabilize our cash flow,” Katala said.
The young agripreneur had been bootstrapping to get the enterprise off the ground, and when the effects of the pandemic became apparent, it was unclear which course his business would take. Luckily, he chanced upon an invitation to compete for the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, which he applied for and eventually won in a competition with 3,000 other applicants for a $50,000 reward, alongside Tanzanian Daniella Kwayu (Phema Agri), and four other young entrepreneurs who each won $2,500 in the impact category.
Now in its third iteration, the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize has inspired over 8,000 youth across Africa to venture into agripreneurship. Winners of the award are announced at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), the world’s premier forum for advancing Africa’s agricultural agenda.
Every year, the AGRF Secretariat gathers thousands of delegates, including political leaders, agripreneurs, scientists, the media and thought leaders, in a four-day forum to discuss innovative ways to strengthen Africa’s agricultural and food systems. The AGRF also allows businesses and governments seeking finance and other partnerships to make pitches in the Agribusiness Deal Room.
The Agribusiness Deal Room is a matchmaking platform that convenes close to 4,000 delegates to facilitate partnerships and investments in African agriculture. It is designed to support financing-at-scale for agricultural subject matter experts (SMEs) through various investment mobilization arrangements.
“The Deal Room demonstrates that the most enduring and sustainable investment is the kind where everyone can benefit… and where prosperity is shared widely,” said USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick during the 2020 AGRF Summit launch.
Since its inception in 2018, the Agribusiness Deal Room has directly linked over 400 companies with targeted investor matchmaking. This is in addition to supporting 17 governments in pitching public-private partnerships toward national flagship priorities. Over the last three years, public and private actors have jointly presented an aggregate capital need of $11 billion in investment opportunities in the Agribusiness Deal Room.
“It is a great initiative. We see that the capital providers are interested in putting money in Africa, provided the project proposals are right for the investments” said Abdul Kalokoh, CEO of Rubicon Agricultural Production and Processing Limited.
Pitching and investment opportunities, like the Agribusiness Deal Room and the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, are a central component of the AGRF, which hosted over 10,000 delegates in 2020. More than 1,000 investment and partnership meetings were facilitated during the virtual forum hosted by Rwanda, leading to $4.7 billion worth of opportunities being presented in more than 20 value chains.