Investing in Women: Eight Women-led Businesses Pioneering Climate Adaptation Innovation in Africa

On International Women’s Day, we are shining the spotlight on eight women-led businesses advancing climate adaptation across Africa – and how the African Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge (YouthADAPT Challenge) is investing in women and accelerating progress

T he impacts of climate change are far from gender-neutral. In rural Mali where water is 20 to 40 times more expensive during the dry season than in the country’s major cities, water scarcity poses a growing challenge for the women responsible for fetching water for their families. In climate-vulnerable countries across the globe, climate change-induced migration has led to men moving to cities to pursue other sources of income, leaving women to take up agricultural roles as well as additional familial responsibility.
 
While the climate crisis disproportionally impacts women, women are also agents of change. The distinct experience that women have of food systems, technology, and institutions equips them with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to develop more effective, gender-responsive, and sustainable climate adaptation solutions.
 
The eight women-led enterprises announced as winners of the 2023 African Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge (YouthADAPT Challenge) are a prime example of this. These women are pioneering Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies like artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to advance climate adaptation across Africa.
 
The YouthADAPT Challenge is an annual competition and awards program for youth-led enterprises. The African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation jointly organize the competition. Climate Investment Funds supports it as part of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP).
 
The African Development Bank’s Africa Climate Change Fund supported the 2023 edition of the YouthADAPT Challenge. The Challenge epitomizes this year’s International Women’s Day theme: “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.”
 
In 2023, the YouthADAPT Challenge aimed to bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship by awarding female-led enterprises and providing them with $100,000 in grant funding and a 12-month accelerator program, which includes training, mentorship, and coaching for investor readiness.
 
In this blog, we shine the spotlight on these eight women-led YouthADAPT winners who are driving climate adaptation action in Africa. We also hear from them about how the YouthADAPT Challenge is helping them scale up their impact.

1. Turning Air into Water for Drought-Stricken Farmers

In drought-stricken farmer communities in Kenya, Majik Water Technologies is providing a life-sustaining resource through its innovative air-to-water technology. Once used in off-grid military operations, these advanced condensation generators transform humidity to liquid water, which is then filtered and mineralized to ensure it is fit for human consumption.
 
“YouthADAPT is catalyzing and enabling youth to take our solutions to market,” says Beth Koigi, Co-founder of Majik Water Technologies. “This funding will make it easier for us to penetrate more markets, especially in the low-income communities that we work in,” she says.

2. Revolutionizing Beekeeping by Leveraging Big Data

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), GRECOM’s Nyuki Tech solution harnesses big data to provide real-time, weather-based information to beekeepers. GRECOM helps beekeepers improve production, decrease the negative effects of pollinating bees, and operate more sustainably.
 
“The YouthADAPT Challenge represents an opportunity where we manage to obtain solutions for women, small solutions for an area that is often ignored: beekeeping,” said GRECOM CEO Deborah Nzubara. She added: “The DRC is known as a solutions country to the challenges of climate change—the protection and enhancement of pollinators is one of the strategies that can make us proud.”

3. Hatching Success for Poultry Farmers

In Zambia, Chapi Core Tech is building the resilience of women smallholder farmers by providing solar-powered incubators and brooders that help increase hatch rates. Their EaseOn Track app has been used to facilitate over $100,000 in financing to make their clean energy solutions more accessible to women farmers.
 
“YouthADAPT means growth,” says Mirriam Chapi, Co-founder of Chapi Core Tech, adding: “It means a transformative opportunity to receive essential support. With 5,000 farmers registered on our platform, the YouthADAPT program represents a crucial step in realizing our vision to support more communities.”

4. Transforming Crop Care with IoT and Machine Learning

Using IoT sensors and machine learning, Onion Doctor Limited monitors onion crops for diseases and provides instant alerts to farmers. It optimizes sustainability and profitability for Kenyan farmers.
 
“I see YouthADAPT as an opportunity to learn and get mentorship from global people that, in a normal day, I would not get to,” says Lucy Wangari, Founder of Onion Doctor. She adds: “The funding is an opportunity for us to scale our innovations, to grow our innovations, and to reach more people. I see YouthADAPT and I see an opportunity for a Kenyan brand to become a global brand. I see you YouthADAPT and I see that linkage to global networks.”

5. Precision Poultry Farming

Poultry farmers in Kenya are benefiting from Arinifu Technologies’ Smart Brooder, an electric and solar-powered “digital mother hen” that uses sensors to monitor and adjust temperature and humidity for chicks during the highly sensitive brooding stage. Using Arinifu’s Kuku Smart Mobile App, small-scale farmers can make the transition from paper-based to digital records. They can receive helpful insights like recommended feed patterns to improve their production, and access markets.

Eddah Wanjiru, Co-Founder of Arinifu, says: “For us, winning the YouthADAPT Challenge is a chance to connect with like-minded people but also learn more about the adaptation space. We are using the technology that we have come up with to improve productivity for our farmers despite this changing climate.”

6. Driving an E-Compost Evolution

Jeune Agro-Innovateurs du Mali transforms the invasive water hyacinth plant into premium compost through a controlled degradation process. Their E-Compost platform guides users on the optimal use of ecological agricultural inputs and organic fertilizers.
 
“As an entrepreneur, the YouthADAPT Challenge means a lot to me,” says Jeune Agro-Innovateurs du Mali CEO Fatoumata Diaby. She adds: “The YouthADAPT Challenge will allow me to better grow my business and achieve my objectives, and be a reference for innovative agricultural practices and products.”

7. Data-Driven Optimization of Beehive Placement

Chemchem Agro’s ApiConnect app employs Machine Learning to analyze environmental data and help beekeepers find the most strategic location for their beehives. This innovation is significantly boosting honey production for beekeepers in the DRC.
 
“The training that will be given to us will help me to improve myself so that my business moves forward, and it contributes to the development of my country and my province,” says Daniella Ushindi Viruvuswagha, CEO of Chemchem Agro. She adds: “The prize that you plan to give us could help me expand my circle of activity. For example, I would like to expand the number of my apiaries, which were at 100 until this moment. We want to reach a level of 600 apiaries.”

8. Cultivating Nigeria’s Agricultural Revolution

Green Eden Farms combines artificial intelligence and IoT sensors to bring real-time information for irrigation, pest control, and disease prevention to farmers in Nigeria. This significantly improves productivity and strengthens food security.
 
Green Eden Farms CEO Stephanie Meltus says: “For me, YouthADAPT is simply a gamechanger. YouthADAPT represents an exciting opportunity for me to expand my scope and fight against climate change. It represents an opportunity for me to showcase the impact of my innovation on an international scale. Winning the YouthADAPT challenge has further validated the importance of my work and my technology in addressing the climate crisis and its impact on agriculture.”

YouthADAPT Challenge: Empowering Women Driving Climate Adaptation

The stories of these remarkable women-led enterprises underscore the pressing challenges faced by communities impacted by climate change. They also underline the immense potential for innovation and resilience within these communities.
 
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it is imperative that we recognize and invest in the pivotal role that women play in driving climate adaptation and sustainable development. Through initiatives like the YouthADAPT Challenge, these women are pioneering groundbreaking solutions and inspiring a new generation of climate leaders.

Celine Novenario is the Senior Communications Manager at the Global Center on Adaptation.

Aramide Abe is the Global Program Lead, Jobs for Youth and Entrepreneurship at the Global Center on Adaptation.

Edith Ofwona Adera is the Principal Climate Change and Green Growth Officer and coordinator of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program at the African Development Bank Group.

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