African youth-led businesses win $1 million in Climate Adaptation challenge at COP26

Ten young businesswomen and men in Africa have won $100,000 each in this year’s YouthADAPT competition jointly run by the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation.

The winners were announced on Friday 5 November at the Africa Pavilion in Glasgow, the Scottish city that is hosting the COP26 UN Climate Conference.

Out of the winners, the majority are businesses run by young women in various parts of the continent.

The YouthADAPT Solutions Challenge, launched on 6th September 2021, aims to strengthen inclusive growth, and broaden investment and economic opportunities for youth and women in Africa.

In addition to the $100,000 grant, each winner will get the opportunity to participate in a 12-month accelerator program to help them grow their businesses, deepen their impact and create decent jobs.

The winning enterprises provide climate adaptation and resilience solutions in critical social and economic sectors affected by climate change, including agriculture; waste management; water resources and sanitation; renewable energy and energy efficiency; waste management and ecosystem restoration.

The winners of the Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge 2021 were:

  • Miama General Dealers Limited, Zambia, which produces and promotes the production of hydroponic millet fodders for small holder farmers to feed their livestock. The enterprise is currently working with 1,250 farmers clustered into cooperative societies consisting of 50 farmers each.
  • Kimplanter Seedling and Nurseries Limited, Kenya which propagates drought-resistant seedlings at affordable prices and helps farmers improve productivity despite the harsh climatic conditions.
  • Irri Hub Ke Limited, Kenya supplies and installs climate-smart irrigation technology including drip irrigation options, eco-friendly water harvesting options, mulching technology, and farm planning services. The irrigation products are powered by green energy solutions.
  • Soupah Farm en Market Limited, Nigeria revolutionizes the way fresh food is grown and distributed and cuts down the amount of fossil fuel by localizing production, through rooftop farming which also reduces the need for harmful packaging materials.
  • Simkay Green Global Ventures, Nigeria innovates vertical sack farming into a low-cost technology for planting crops in the sides and tops of large sacks of soil, enabling farmers to grow a large number of crops in a relatively small space by taking advantage of the vertical growth of plants. On average, one sack contains 50 to 70 vegetable plants.
  • Bleaglee Waste Management Limited, Cameroon uses drone technology to tackle the challenge of poor disposal of waste that has been the major cause of flooding due to clogging in most western parts of Cameroon.
  • Mumita Holdings Limited, Cameroon produces African indigenous vegetables using greenhouse technologies and the implementation of irrigational systems to support year-round production.
  • Salubata Technological Innovations Limited, Nigeria collects and converts plastic waste into customized shoes. The company also commits 5% of the profits to the cause of empowering women in local communities.
  • Sustainable Builders, Zambia supports the development of a conducive environment for farmer behavior change towards a more diverse range of production options. This results in increased output and productivity while addressing critical food security issues.
  • Global Farms and Trading Company Limited, Ghana seeks to increase food security, alleviate poverty, conserve biodiversity, and safeguard ecosystem services through the practice of conservation agriculture.

Seven out of the 10 winning businesses are women-led enterprises.  The winning businesses will receive grants of up to $100,000 each and the opportunity to participate in a 12-month business accelerator program to help them scale up their businesses, deepen their impact and create decent jobs.

African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi. A. Adesina, and Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, announced the establishment of a new Africa Adaptation Youth Council which will provide advice and support to identify adaptation priorities and solutions to capitalize on the energy and entrepreneurialism of young people in Africa.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Keriako Tobiko, said: “Our youth are not leaders for tomorrow. They are leaders for today, for now. They are saying the truth – that we have not inherited this earth from our ancestors, that we have borrowed it. We, the leaders, we have messed up your future. You have taken up the mantle. Don’t wait for us to bequeath you. We shall hold your hand by giving you the necessary means, the mentoring, the tools, to take up leadership.”

Dr. Adesina said: “The world is at its best when it taps into the innovation and creativity of the younger generation. Their ingenuity has always been at the forefront of every industrial revolution. They will not be deterred or defined by the limits or challenges they see – they break barriers and develop business models that transform lives.”

Verkooijen said: “Africa’s young people are going to bear the brunt of climate change even though they have contributed so very little to its causes. We must involve them as we draw up solutions to help tackle the impacts of our climate emergency. That is why I’m so pleased to see the winners of our YouthADAPT competition playing a key role in helping create the solutions that are necessary for a sustainable and resilient world.”

The $8.5 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF) has partnered with the African Development Bank and Global Center on Adaptation on the YouthADAPT flagship program to accelerate climate action by empowering transformations in clean technology, energy access, climate resilience, and sustainable forests in developing and middle-income countries.

“Young entrepreneurs are powerful agents of change and we need their drive, boldness and creativity in the global effort to implement bold solutions to the climate crisis,” said Mafalda Duarte, Chief Executive Officer of the Climate Investment Funds speaking during the award ceremony. “The Climate Investment Funds is proud to collaborate with the GCA and AfDB YouthADAPT Solutions Challenge and help bring their ideas to life,” Duarte added.

“Climate change has reduced productivity among smallholder farmers who depend on open grazing; we therefore produce and promote the production of hydroponic fodders for smallholder farmers to feed their livestock. Through the grant, we will assist 1,250 smallholder farmers clustered in 25 cooperatives to produce hydroponic fodders to feed their livestock,” said Mpulu Kabani, one of the winners and a representative of Maima General Dealers based in Zambia.

“We are in the business of producing drought-resistant seedlings to promote agriculture for both subsistence and economic use. This business grant will enable us to reach more than 2,000,000 million smallholder farmers in East Africa and maintain agriculture as a backbone of development,” said another winner, Carolyne Mwangi of Kimplanter Seedlings and Nurseries.

The panel of judges consisted of:

  • Chukwuemeka J. Diji, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, Innovations, Consultancy & Extension, Kampala International University;
  • Diksha Bijlani, Local Stakeholder Engagement Specialist, World Bank Climate Investment Funds;
  • Lorie Rufo, Coordinator, Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, Climate Investment Funds;
  • Innocent Onah, PhD, Climate Change & Green Growth Consultant, African Development Bank;
  • Peter Tierney, Lexact Consulting;
  • Xianfu Lu, Senior Strategy and Outreach Specialist (Consultant), Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, Climate Investment Funds
  • Tonya Nyakeya, Program Management & Ecosystem Engagement Specialist.

The AAAP’s YouthADAPT Solutions Flagship Program aims to unlock $3 billion in financing for the youth; support 10,000 youth-led SMEs (50% women) in climate resilience; and build capacity for one million youth on climate adaptation for job creation.

The YouthADAPT Solutions Challenge is supported by funding from the African Development Bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-donor Trust Fund (YEI MDTF).


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