Heifer International confirmed in a press release that Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO of ColdHubs – a Nigerian business that provides solar powered walk-in coolers for smallholder vegetable farmers and Jehiel Oliver, founder and CEO of Hello Tractor – a Kenyan company that has become known across Africa as the “Uber of tractors,” were selected as the winners of the inaugural US$1.5 million Heifer International AYuTe Africa Challenge.
Hello Tractor provides technology that allows farmers to connect with local tractor owners on the Hello Tractor marketplace and book a machine for as long as they need it. ColdHubs owns and operates dozens of compact, walk-in, solar-powered coolers at rural produce markets in central Nigeria. The transportable, stand-alone units give local farmers a way of preserving perishable foods, reducing waste.
As part of Heifer International’s efforts to support young entrepreneurs developing affordable tech innovations to scale their businesses, the winners will receive a sizeable monetary investment of $1.5 million in grants, along with ongoing support from a team of expert advisers and accomplished business veterans to help them translate their funding into an aggressive expansion strategy.
With the support from Heifer, Hello Tractor’s CEO Jehiel Oliver hopes that “Hello Tractor would be available across Africa. “ For ColdHubs, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, the CEO of ColdHubs is going as far as his eyes can see and hopefully in five years Cold Hubs “can grow from 50 to about 5,000 ColdHubs across West Africa and create new income opportunities for smallholder producers,”
Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa Programs at Heifer International, reiterated Heifer’s commitment to “help companies like Hello Tractor and ColdHubs as they provide Africa’s smallholder farmers with much-needed products and services to develop a sustainable and profitable business. Ikegwuonu and Oliver are examples of young agritech innovators who can help change the negative narrative surrounding farming in Africa by showing how an occupation most young Africans associate with hardship can be profitable, productive, stimulating, and rewarding.”