Innovation champions: Plusfarm places Kenya on the global map by tackling Agricultural sector challenges head-on
Global Alliance Africa boosts agriculture in Kenya with Place-Based Innovation Intervention.
The agricultural sector is the backbone of the Kenyan economy, contributing approximately 33 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector dominates the country’s economy, accounting for 40% of the overall workforce (70% of the rural workforce) and about 25% of the annual workforce. Therefore, interventions aimed at boosting the Agricultural sector, such as cross-collaborations are crucial not only for the ecosystem but also for the economy.
In an effort to contribute to the improvement of this, the Place-Based Innovation (PBI) Intervention, which is an Innovate UK KTN Global Alliance project, strengthens the capacity and resilience of local innovation ecosystems through first working to better understand local challenges, capabilities and potential for innovation, and then supporting co-creation of action-orientated local innovation networks in areas of high potential. PBI widens the geographical focus of innovation support structures to catalyse local innovation in response to local challenges.
Kenyan-based agritech startup, Plusfarm Kenya is one of the local innovation network actors in Eldoret. Through the PBI networking support approach, local Kenyan entrepreneurs, such as Plusfarm, are better able to leverage UK and pan-African expertise, networks and resources in order to maximise the creation of inclusive market access, funding and investment opportunities through innovation knowledge transfer.
According to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, some of the biggest challenges that face the Kenyan agriculture sector include the use of outdated technology, climate change, diseases and pests, infrastructure and soil nutrients. Six years ago, the co-founder and CEO of Plusfarm Kenya, Stephen Mwongela, organised and ran an #EndFoodWaste campaign, met with farmers from Western Kenya, and saw the inefficiencies and opportunities in the food value chain, which prompted him and his co-founder to launch the startup in 2019 which is aimed at supporting farmers in day-to-day farm management.
We are supporting farmers by matching them with local experts and building an ecosystem of farmers that are inter-connected through software. When we launched, we realised that it was quite complex to commercialise, and ended up giving the service for free. We then added an aspect of service delivery, where instead of linking farmers to experts, we keep the experts on our database then offer the services from experts to farmers at a fee, which we use to pay the experts.
But we would not be where we are today without the assistance of PBI which provided us with training from coaches, networking with all members of the Agri sector ecosystem, and that helps us build businesses for the future. Additionally, this helped us to draw from their experience and knowledge and that in turn, grew our networks with ecosystem players in the UK.
Kenya is home to unique and innovative solutions to solve these challenges; however, partnerships such as that of countries like Kenya and the UK play a significant role in the uplift of startups that introduce innovative solutions to real challenges. The impacts of these collaborations are seen through the business and revenue growth of startups that take on the programmes.
About Global Alliance Africa
The Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Four project-level interventions were piloted in 2021 in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa with one of the interventions focused on Open Innovation.
For more information about the project, please visit https://ktn-uk.org/programme/africa
Agrifood Africa Connect
AgriFood Africa Connect brings innovative people and organisations across the UK and Africa together to address key AgriFood challenges in Africa. We build diverse connections across the UK and Africa to drive positive change that aligns with the UK’s Overseas Development Assistance goals.
AgriFood Africa Connect Map
The AgriFood Africa Connect Map makes it easier for UK and African organisations to collaborate on projects, provides information on the AgriFood sector across Africa, and helps connect innovators to enable collaboration and address key global challenges.
Global Alliance Africa
We are delivering a 6-year (2019-2025) UK International Development funded Global Alliance Africa project which aims to build new and stronger UK-African partnerships to maximise the creation of inclusive market access, funding and investment opportunities through innovation knowledge transfer between the UK, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.