Winners of Inaugural AYuTe Africa Challenge secure $1.5-million 

The winners of the AYuTe Africa Challenge, hosted and conducted by Heifer International, have been announced. The two winners were selected for their innovative services and products that assist the agricultural sector and have been awarded $1.5-million collectively. 

Coldhubs and Hello Tractor announced as winners

The winners are as follows:

  • Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO of ColdHubs, a Nigerian business that provides solar-powered, walk-in coolers for smallholder vegetable farmers
  • Jehiel Oliver, founder and CEO of Hello Tractor, a Kenyan-based company that provides tractors to farmers on a rental basis similar to that of Uber’s current business mechanism but for farmers. 

Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa Programs at Heifer International comments on this year’s selected winners.

“Ikegwuonu and Oliver are examples of young agritech innovators who can help change the negative narrative surrounding farming in Africa—showing how an occupation many young Africans associate with hardship can be profitable, productive, stimulating and rewarding,” said Ifedi. 

The winners

The selected winners have not only secured $1.5-million collectively but will also be provided with ongoing support and advice from experts, accomplished business leaders and others to ensure that the funding is utilised effectively towards the expansion of the selected agritech startups. 

The challenge forms part of Heifer International’s aim to support young entrepreneurs that are developing affordable tech innovations.

“Across Africa today, young, creative professionals are deploying tech innovations that are reimagining farming and food production. We want to do our part to help companies like Hello Tractor and ColdHubs as they provide Africa’s smallholder farmers with much-needed products and services to develop sustainable, profitable business,” explains Ifedi.  

Hello Tractor

Based in Kenya, Hello Tractor has created a platform that allow farms to connect with local tractor owners to book a machine when needed. 

Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor founder and CEO provides insight into the aims of the startup.

“Our ambition is for Hello Tractor to be available across Africa and we’re excited that winning the AYuTe Africa Challenge will help make that happen. The entire continent of Africa sees about 15,000 new tractors every year while India alone sees about one million. Our farmers clearly need a lot more tractors and Hello Tractor offers a proven pathway for increasing access to this important technology.”  


The Nigeria-based agritech company ColdHubs owns and operates compact, walk-in, solar-powered coolers within rural produce markets in central Nigeria. The product enables small scale producers and sellers to ensure the freshness of their produce and that it is safely transported.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, CEO of ColdHubs explains what the funding and overall support will do for the company.

“With support from Heifer and the AYuTe Africa Challenge, I think in five years we can grow from 50 to about 5,000 ColdHubs across West Africa and create new income opportunities for smallholder producers. Too many African farmers do not get the income they deserve because they have no way of keeping their produce fresh, forcing them to sell it soon after harvest. ColdHubs offers an affordable, pay-as-you-go refrigeration option available right in the middle of local markets.” 

ColdHubs (supplied)

Read more: Endeavor Nigeria unveils cohort for ScaleUp programme

Featured image: Hello Tractor (Supplied) 



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