After Continental Triumph, Gambian Owned Technology Firm Eying on $500k in Geneva
The winner of Seedstars Banjul Startup Pitching Competition in September 2019 has been selected among the top ten startups of Sub-Saharan Africa in the December Seedstars Africa Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Nadji-Bi, a Gambian owned technology solution provider focusing on diversifying solar energy across the country to support all-year-round agricultural production through smart irrigation, will now wait to compete for $500, 000 at the Seedstars Global Summit in Geneva, Switzerland in April.
Any startup that emerges as a winner will also be accorded with several other mentoring opportunities and face-to-face meetings with some of the world’s biggest investors.
The pitches were presented before the judges, mentors and investors and Nadji-Bi was considered based on the solutions it provided to address Gambia’s food self-sufficiency beyond seasonal rain-fed farming system.
The C.E.O of the company, Gabriel Latjor Ndow, anticipates being crowned the winner in April as he looks towards a serious expansion across the country and Africa as a whole.
“What my company needs at this stage is investment to scale up because our solutions are not just targeting Gambia. They are also for the entire African continent because these are real needs we found across,” he told The Chronicle.
“So having a big production center here will definitely be a big boost for us to be able to reach the market and, of course, to scale up our staffing, marketing profile and our manufacturing plans so that we can start going quickly.”
According to the FAO, only 6 percent of agriculture in Africa is being conducted by irrigation and the rest is all manual causing high labor intensive and low profit for farmers. Among the 6 percent of irrigation farmers, 83 percent of them are small scale farmers.
In South Africa, Nadji-Bi presented a smart irrigation system which is designed specifically for small scale farmers to ensure all-year-round irrigation farming.
“Our focus is more on smart devices because smarts solutions needed to be impacted on the real needs on the ground,” he said.
Ndow said the three days activity in Johannesburg have allowed them to pitch to show their solutions as businesses that they are offering.
“We are a technology solution provider, but we are also manufacturing solar as our key energy for our solutions. We developed a system that once you install a solar irrigation system, we can monitor the irrigation system even as far as in Basse or anywhere so that they can have efficient system all-year-round.”
According to him, this was already tested in a farm in Saloum, south bank of Central River Region which was already harvested three times successfully.
As a participating business in the contest organized by Seedstars, Ndow said he was exposed to several productive interactions and trainings with investors and mentors.
“We had meetings – one on one with investors that are interested in the African market and the objective is to showcase us to the investors. These meetings were held before the pitching day. The feedback from the investors and also from the training sessions with the mentors went towards point scoring. It was not an academic exercise, this were sessions for the investors that are seriously looking at investing in your company and they will give feedback as to your potential for them to invest and they rank and give your score based on.”
He now hopes to become the winner in April at the global stage. However, even without that, he has already secured his company an unquantifiable visibility and exposure.
“The platform gave us exposure and the investors are contacting me on a daily basis – looking at our profile and asking questions. So the visibility I got there could have taken me tens of thousands of dollars for marketing just to get these investors to pay attention to you. That’s a positive,” he told The Chronicle.
In September, Nadji-Bi emerged victorious in Seedstars Banjul pitching competition to represent the country in South Africa.
Seedstars is a Swiss-based private group of companies with a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship.