King Baudouin Foundation puts African startups in presence of Belgium royalty


Independent pluralistic body The King Baudouin Foundation has awarded three young entrepreneurs the King Baudouin African Development Prize for their contribution to social change across Africa.

The biennial award ceremony took place yesterday at the Royal Palace in Brussels and was attended by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

“Young entrepreneurs are changing the economic landscape on the continent. They represent the future, a future that is happening now. Illustrating this in three key sectors was the only way of doing justice to the diversity of this transformation,” said the chair of the prize selection committee Koen Vervaeke in a press release.

This marks the first time, since the Baudouin Foundation’s launch in 2012 that the prize has been awarded to three individuals. The winners span the education, legal rights and agriculture sectors.

The following startups were awarded €75 000 each as well as access to a wide network of stakeholders:

  • BarefootLaw — a legal startup from Uganda which aims to give those in rural areas access to legal services free-of-charge.
  • Farmerline — a Ghanaian startup which connects over 200 000 farmers with access to necessary market information.
  • Kytabu — is a Kenyan startup which has developed a textbook content-leasing app which allows over 11-million students access to necessary textbooks.

BarefootLaw founder Gerald Abila said he is “humbled” by the award and the recognition of his company’s work.

“In 2013 we set out with the goal to demystify the law and empower people to understand their rights. With most legal support in Uganda based in the capital city, those in rural areas are without access to readily available support,” he said.

The Baudouin Foundation awards three startups €75 000 each

Farmerline co-founder Alloysius Attah mentioned how excited he was to be able to use the prize to expand the company.

“Agriculture is central to African economies. We see the impact that technology is having on local communities; our ambition is to connect even more smallholder farmers with direct access to market information and communication channels with their peers.”

Kytabu founder Tonee Ndungu also mentioned how the prize will help the company expand.

“We are proud to be a part of a new wave of development across the continent and looking forward to developing the platform further through the prize.”

The foundation’s chair Thomas Leysen believes traditional foreign aid and donor funding are not the right tools if one wants to create long-term change on the continent.

“The foundation believes in recognising and supporting local entrepreneurs who are passionate about finding solutions to local development challenges. Our winners have set a new precedent on how technology can change lives across Africa,” he said.

Featured image: Belgium Royal Palace by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr (CC 2.0, resize)



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