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Cape Town-based agritech startup Aerobotics has won the Best Startup and Venture Capital Company category at the 2019 Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (Savca) Industry Awards.
The awards, which are now in their second year, were held in Johannesburg last night in collaboration with Investec and with the support of Sanlam Investments.
Aerobotics, which was founded in in 2014 by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer, has developed a data-analytics platform that uses satellites, drones and artificial intelligence to help farmers optimise crop performance.
The Savca Industry Awards are now in their second year
The startup has expanded internationally to cater to the growing market demand in the USA and has also identified lucrative opportunities in Europe, South America, the rest of Africa and Australia.
Durban-based engineering firm DSES Project Solutions won the Best SME category, while the Cape Town-based Real Foods Group — whose brands include Kauai and Nü Health Food Café — clinched the Best Mid-Market Company award.
Mauritius-based agricultural inputs business Meridian Consolidated Investments — which operates across Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe — won the Chairman’s Award.
As part of the awards judging process, Savca research partner Intellidex evaluated ten shortlisted finalists according to a set list of criteria.
Following this, a judging panel of senior business leaders selected the winners based on a number of factors.
The judges looked for evidence of growth, including profit growth and investor returns, employment creation, innovation, environmental and social impact, as well as the strength of their leadership team.
‘Positive impact on job creation, economy’
Savca CEO Tanya van Lill said in a statement today that the four portfolio companies that were recognised this year, while very diverse in terms of industry and approach, all have two things in common.
“Firstly, they have all prospered from private equity and venture capital investment in the Southern African region. More importantly, these companies all have a positive impact on job creation, the economy and social development,” added van Lill.
She explained that the Chairman’s Award is awarded when there is an exceptional portfolio company that has not won its category, but deserves to be specifically recognised.
“The judges felt that Meridian Consolidated Investments deserved this special recognition for achieving excellent financial and social returns in markets that are difficult to operate in, and where significant impact has been felt,” said van Lill.
Investec head of leverage finance Andrew Chananie said portfolio companies like the four winners do so much for the Southern African economy.
“Which is why awards such as these are so important to recognise their exceptional performance and raise awareness of their vital contribution to society,” said Chananie.
Featured image: 2019 Savca Industry Award winners (Supplied)