On April 12th, 2018, the 5th Seedstars Summit was held in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Seedstars organisation connects stakeholders within key startup ecosystems across the world and is creating a large tech community in emerging markets. They help solve local problems by building companies from scratch and investing in entrepreneurs who are driven to create an impact on society.
Three intense days of keynote speakers, workshops, startup bootcamps, one-to-one mentoring and startup pitching cumlinated in the announcement of the Summit´s winners and awards ceremony. More than 1000 people gathered to discover the many different kinds of innovation and technologies, connect with different stakeholders, and experience the startups selected in the best entrepreneurial ecosystems of the emerging markets. They heard powerful speeches from five inspiring entrepreneurs from emerging markets and pitches from the twelve best startups selected among the 67 competition participants.
A few startups had their focus on sustainable solutions for the environment, such as Solar Freeze, AgroCenta, and eFishery.
Solar Freeze wins energy prize
The Energy Prize was awarded to Solar Freeze from Kenya. Solar Freeze is pioneering mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy for rural smallholder farmers, to help them reduce the huge challenge of post-harvest. In much of the developing world, postharvest losses are as high as 80% and the cold‐storage chain is virtually non‐existent due to the high cost of equipment and spotty electricity. Because fresh produce can perish in a matter of days under ambient temperatures, temperature control alone can extend the shelf life by weeks or even months.
Quickly lowering produce temperature after harvest extends shelf life by reducing metabolic activity and microbial growth. Since market prices can rise and fall drastically, farmers who can store produce longer can take advantage of better prices.
The unreliability of local electricity supplies, the expense of conventional coolers, and the lack of technical expertise for the installation and maintenance all have led to the search for alternative solutions such as evaporative cooling systems.
Nevertheless, mechanical refrigeration still represents a simple and efficient solution to cooling produce, and is usually the only practical means for cooling to temperatures near freezing. For resource-limited farmers in the developing world, cold rooms and transportation systems employing mechanical refrigeration are economically and practically infeasible.
Solar Freeze provides a holistic approach from storage to transportation and selling produce by using renewable energy from the farm gate though mobile solar powered cold rooms to the transportation of fresh produce via energy efficient trucks and finally to the end consumer who mainly include bottom of the pyramid clients in towns and cities who will benefit from reduced prices of food and better nutrition from the innovation.
AgroCenta wins main prize
Winning the vote of the entire jury, AgroCenta from Ghana was crowned the Seedstars Global Winner of the 5th edition of Seedstars Summit. AgroCenta was founded in 2015 to improve the agricultural value chain in Ghana. Two critical problems: the lack of an access to market for smallholder farmers in the rural areas, which subjects them to activities of exploitative buying from middlemen, and the lack of a coordinated truck delivery system to cart their commodities from farms to markets to sell.
AgroCenta’s idea is to solve these age-old problems by introducing an online sales platform that connects smallholder farmers directly to an online market, which has a wider geographic size, to sell their commodities. The end result? Exploitative buying has been reduced to the barest minimum since farmers are in control of selling their commodities at prices favorable to them.
Once a farmer gets offers from interested buyers, the problem of logistics and transportation are sorted using AgroCenta’s patent TrucKR solution that allows the smallholder farmer in any remote village in Ghana access to trucks at the click of a button.
Former winner eFishery
One of the speakers was Gibran Huzaifah, founder and CEO of Indonesian IoT startup eFishery. This mobile app allows fish farmers to schedule feeding times and monitor feeding performance, reducing the amount of food fish farmers use by 21% and increasing the harvest. The amount of food to be distributed is adjusted according to the data collected. The smart fish feeder relies on the sensory movement of water to detect the fish’s appetite. His invention has changed the way fish farmers work in Indonesia, a country where the aquaculture market represents $5.4 billion.
Gibran was awarded Best of the Best Young Entrepreneur 2013 by the Ministry of SME Indonesia, was one of the Seedstars World Global Finalists in 2015, and was listed under Forbes’ Asia Top 30 under 30 in 2017. His keynote speech focused on the importance of pivoting and how his company has changed between the time he participated in the Seedstars Summit competition in 2015 and today.