By Vanessa Akoth

During the ongoing climate change conference of parties (COP28) in Dubai, the 2023 YouthAdapt Challenge has recognized and celebrated eight remarkable African women-led businesses for their notable contributions to climate adaptation.

These ventures, each a beacon of innovation, are making waves in sectors directly impacted by climate change, including agriculture, energy efficiency, disaster risk management, water resources, and biodiversity conservation.

This year’s champions include visionaries like Deborah Nzarubara of ETS Grencom in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), leveraging big data for real-time weather updates and sustainable agriculture. Mirriam Chapi of Chapi Core Tech (Zambia) empowers over 5,000 women farmers with the EaseOn Track app, promoting clean energy adoption.

Eddah Wanjiru of Arinifu Technologies (Kenya) utilizes the Internet of Things (IoT) for poultry solutions, while Fatoumata Diaby of Jeune Agro-Innovatour (Mali) champions sustainable practices with the E-Compost software.

Other outstanding winners include Beth Koigi of Majik Water Technologies (Kenya), pioneering atmospheric water harvesting, and Lucy Wangari of Onion Doctor Limited (Kenya), optimizing onion crop growth with IoT and machine learning.

Daniella Ushindi Viruvuswagha of ETS Chemchem Agro (DRC) enhances honey production with the ApiConnect app, and Stephanie Meltus of Green Eden Farms (Nigeria) employs Scaregrow technology for real-time insights, enhancing productivity in Nigerian agriculture.

These winners are each set to receive a comprehensive 12-month accelerator program, complete with mentorship, coaching, and a grant funding of up to $100,000.

Acknowledging the accolade, Wangari expressed her confidence that the award would serve as a driving force to scale up her innovative solution, adding that she is determined to enhance local onion production by 20%, thereby transforming the onion value chain into a lucrative source of employment for farmers in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands.

Since its inauguration in 2021, the YouthADAPT initiative, a collaboration between the African Development Bank Group (AFDB) and the Global Center on Adaptation with support from the Africa Climate Change Fund, has awarded over $5 million to 33 young entrepreneurs from 19 African nations.

Underlining the importance of fostering talent among Africa’s youth, Professor Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, remarked, “The key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential lies in the hands of young people. Initiatives such as the YouthADAPT awards offer opportunities for training and employment, aiming to retain African talents within their home countries.”

This year’s interest was on female-owned enterprises pioneering Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies. These innovations include artificial intelligence, big data analytics, virtual reality, robotics, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, additive manufacturing, blockchain, and fifth-generation wireless, all geared towards climate adaptation.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President AFDB, highlighted the crucial role of tapping into the ideas and creativity of youth to elevate livelihoods and contribute to national prosperity.

“The Jobs for Youth in Africa and the Skills Employability initiatives at the Bank stand as a testament to our commitment to create 25 million jobs for our youth, ensuring that 250 million individuals find their path to the labor market. The Youth ADAPT initiative is a pledge to invest in the youth and shape a thriving future.”

Cheryl Urban, Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Sub-Saharan Africa, lauded the instrumental role of financial institutions play in supporting the growth of youth-led climate businesses and innovations in Africa, expressing pride in Canada’s contribution to the YouthADAPT program.