How the Barclays Techstars Accelerator in Cape Town Impacted a Startup from Israel
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
One of the 10 companies that came through the 2017 Barclays Accelerator has a unique experience, and one that highlights the value a programme can offer to a determined and passionate 4-some with a great idea, in a continent and industry that is crying out for their solution.
That company is Avenews-GT; an Agricultural Trade Ecosystem that empowers farmers to participate in the global market and deliver their unique and high-quality products to the world.
By providing a digital trading platform based on Blockchain technology, they enable verified farmers and cooperatives to transact directly with agri-buyers such as retailers and manufacturers, to reduce distribution costs, create financial security and increase supply chain transparency.
Why were you keen to participate in the Barclays Accelerator in Cape Town specifically?
Africa is a big agriculture market and one of the most important globally. The industry is based on an old and non-digital trade process and therefore, reputations are a big deal in the international trade industry. Harnessing Techstars and Barclays really was a great business move and no brainer for us.
We grew up in Israeli farming communities and are well aware of some of the challenges that farmers have all over the world and especially in Africa - so we wanted to get straight into that ecosystem. When Yossi Hasson, MD of the Barclays Accelerator Programme in Cape Town reached out to us, we jumped on the opportunity.
What were the most valuable aspects of the Techstars experience?
The Techstars brand is so strong; the attitude, the structure and the discipline of the programme were hugely beneficial to us. We knew what we wanted to achieve and Techstars enabled so much of that.
The whole mentorship experience was amazing; having the opportunity to meet with 80 high quality mentors and learn from their mistakes, successes and have the ear of some really key individuals was invaluable. Above all, having our team of four together for the first time was brilliant. We are all incredibly hard working and very focused so to have us all under one roof has really driven our business forward.
Is the African ecosystem as you expected? How does it differ from Israel?
Partly. But we were amazed by how open the African agricultural ecosystem is to tech solutions. Israel is technologically advanced but it is very difficult to enter the market. Africa, on the other hand, is not as advanced, but the desire for technology solutions is greater and the opportunities are bigger.
From our experience of the African agricultural ecosystem, the lack of tech makes the farmers and the buyers more open to trying new things (which we’re super happy about!)
What’s on the radar for Avenews-GT in Africa?
The African agriculture industry provides a livelihood for many African communities and is based mostly on smallholder farmers and cooperatives. This industry is constantly advancing and this rate of advancement is only set to increase as the global population is set to reach 9 billion by 2050 and the demand for food will rise by 70 percent.
African farmers and cooperatives are increasingly utilising digital technologies to increase productivity, and Avenews-GT intends to provide the gateway for them to sell their products domestically and globally as Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness markets are set to top US$ one trillion in 2030.
In the 13 weeks of the Barclays Accelerator, the Avenews-GT team have seen a lot of traction, including:
- Growing from 15 farmers on the Avenews-GT platform to 1,000 farmers
- Started a pilot with a Rwandan coffee cooperative
- Established a strategic business partnership with TradeCloud; a logistics and digital management company
- Established a good relationship with Barclays and working on a Proof of Concept
- Raising capital