Heifer International Showcases Young Tech Talent Delivering for African Farmers, Selects ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne as Winners of 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge
Heifer International (www.Heifer.org) today announced the 2022 winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge supporting agritech innovators: ThriveAgric from Nigeria, Kenya’s DigicCow and Botswana-based Brastorne Enterprises.
ThriveAgric is a fast-growing start-up that increases farmers’ incomes and production with its ground-breaking “agricultural operating system”. DigiCow is an agritech company that uses digital tools to modernize production on small-scale dairy farms, while the digital feature phone technology developed by Brastorne Enterprises is bridging Africa’s rural digital divide.
“At a time when Africa is facing unprecedented food-related challenges, it is incredibly inspiring to see these young African champions strongly focused on an agriculture-led future that provides farmers with the innovations they need to succeed,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Deputy Director. President of Africa Programs, Heifer International. “We launched this competition in 2021, challenging African youth to bring us innovations that are ready to provide the positive disruption our farmers desperately need. ThriveAgric, DigiCow and Brastorne are more than ready to rise to the occasion,” she noted.
As winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge 2022, the three companies will receive a significant monetary investment: a total of US$1.5 million in grants, along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisors – accomplished business veterans – to help them translate their funding into a aggressive expansion strategy. This is part of Heifer International’s commitment to supporting young entrepreneurs developing affordable technological innovations as they work to scale their businesses. Doing so makes new services and technologies available to African farmers to overcome long-standing challenges while attracting a new generation to unlock the enormous potential of agriculture on the continent.
All three of the 2022 winners are helping African farmers by offering a new solution to everyday obstacles:
- ThriveAgric addresses a key challenge for small-scale farmers in Africa – lack of access to finance, technical advice, business skills and market opportunities. It does so by using a proprietary agricultural operating system to help a team of 2,000 field agents support some 500,000 farmers in 22 Nigerian states with insights to improve their production and profits.
“We have developed the technologies, strategies and partnerships we believe can build the largest network of productive, profitable farmers Africa has ever seen,” said Uka Eje, Thrive Agric’s co-founder and CEO. “ThriveAgric’s 500,000 farmers are already producing and earning much more than the average Nigerian farmer. Investors are responding to our potential and this prestigious award from Heifer International will accelerate our plans to expand across the continent.”
- DigiCow helps small-scale African dairy businesses increase productivity with technology that provides free access to livestock management experts and connects farmers to skilled and qualified veterinarians, artificial insemination providers and feed supply services – all from their mobile phones.
“I grew up watching my mother struggle to get our cows to produce enough milk, and I’ve spent 15 years working with small-scale dairy farmers, so I know the challenges farmers face,” said Peninah Wanja, co-founder of Nairobi-based DigiCow. “That’s why it’s been so exciting to see 60,000 farmers – many of them women – now using our DigiCow apps to become more profitable and productive. With this new support from Heifer International, I am confident that we can extend our reach to help small scale dairy farmers across the continent.”
- Brastorneits apps, such as mAgri, give farmers access to agricultural information, markets and short-term financing using the features of any feature phone, such as SMS and interactive voice technology. The Brastorne mobile service Mpotsa (“Ask Me”) provides rural untethered mobile users with localized information, and Vuka leverages USSD technology to allow users on any phone to create profiles, add friends, create chat groups and more. These technologies have helped farmers realize a 250% increase in yield and achieve 85% savings in communication and information access. The company also has 100% youth employment.
“About 80% of Africans cannot afford smartphones or expensive data — but they have feature phones, and Brastorne makes sure those phones connect farmers, youth and women to the resources they need,” said Martin Stimela, co-founder and CEO of Brastorne. “We look forward to working with Heifer International to connect the rural poor with equitable access to markets, information and community.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Heifer International.
Note to editors:
Please click here (to access photos of each winning project/entrepreneur, winner profiles and other background material.
About Heifer International:
For 78 years, Heifer International has worked with more than 40 million people worldwide to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. Heifer International has been working with rural communities across Africa for 48 years, supporting farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income. For information, visit www.Heifer.org.
ThriveAgric ( is a fast-growing agricultural technology company passionate about ensuring food security. It connects farmers to capital, data-driven best practices and access to local and global markets for their goods.
About DigiCow Africa, LTD:
DigiCow Africa ( is a Kenyan company registered in 2014, with operations starting in 2016. Its core business is the development of mobile phone technologies for the agricultural sector to enable the agricultural value chain to increase productivity and profitability through data-driven decisions. In April 2019, DigiCow won the challenge Disruptive Agricultural Technologies organized by the World Bank, and emerged as the most innovative agritech in Kenya.
About Brastorne Enterprises:
Brastorne ( leverages USSD technology for basic feature phones to connect millions of rural Africans to information, markets, legal services and communities, reducing Africa’s digital divide. Brastorne services are used by 40% of Botswana’s active feature phone users, and the company launched services in Den the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2021. Brastorne Enterprises is one of the 60 recipients of the Google for Start-ups Black Founders Fund Africa 2022 program.
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