Seedstars World, the biggest startup competition focused only on emerging markets, closed its fifth edition with the Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, with more than 65 local startup winners.
Startups participated in a two-day bootcamp; a private Investor Forum where they had the chance to pitch to be considered one of the 12 finalists to compete on the main stage, and attended more than 700 one-on-one sessions with investors. On the Summit Day, the finalist startups pitched on the main stage in front of more than 1 000 participants, investors, startup enthusiasts and prominent names of tech and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. The jury, an international panel which included Benjamin Benaïm, from Seedstars, Nikunj Jinsi and Theta Capital Group decided that this year’s investment will go to Agrocenta from Ghana.
“Winning at the Seedstars Summit will have an enormous impact in my company’s growth and success for the next years,” said AgroCenta founder Francis Obirikorang. “In emerging economies, we lack not only the infrastructure, but also access to some fundamental tools like networking and mentoring. Seedstars team is spreading the word about our talent and ideas to their international network.”
Obirikorang says he founded AgroCenta to create an online sales platform that could connect smallholder farmers directly to an online market with wider geographic reach to sell their commodities.
According to Pierre-Alain Masson, co-founder at Seedstars, “AgroCenta won this prize because of the disruption they are creating in the farming industry. It’s very important that investors know that talent is everywhere and that the way startups and tech entrepreneurs in emerging markets are addressing the underlying social challenges in their home countries, be it agriculture or access to finance, basic education, healthcare or energy supply is a tremendous business trend and opportunity.”
On top of the $500,000 investment prize for the Seedstars Global Winner, Seedstars and its partners awarded 7 additional prizes:
- EDVES, from Nigeria, was awarded the Transforming Education Prize, by TRECC (Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities) and School of Management Fribourg (HEG Fribourg), winning access to the Seedstars Growth Program worth $50,000.
- Finchat Technologies, from Singapore, won the BBVA Open Innovation Prize, receiving an opportunity to participate at their annual BBVA Open Summit in Madrid and network with the most relevant players from their international fintech network
- Solar Freeze, from Kenya, was the winner of the Africa Energy Prize by Enel X, which rewards the startup for its innovative solution to provide solar-powered cold storage units to smallholder farmers with no need for grid connection in Sub-Saharan Africa. Solar Freeze won access to a three-month programme worth $50,000 in acceleration services.
- EMGuidance, from South Africa, was awarded the Health Tech prize by Merck. The prize combines joining Merck Accelerator with financial support of up to €50,000 and office space at the Merck Innovation Center, mentoring, and coaching.
- TAG Heuer, Seedstars World official time keeper, decided to partner with Seedstars Summit to highlight the role of women entrepreneurs in their own ecosystems and awarded Medsaf, from Nigeria, the Best Woman Entrepreneur prize.
- Alquilando, from Argentina, won the Time Saviour Prize, by TAG Heuer, for their solution to simplify rental process, minimize risk and guarantee rent payments on time, considered to be the one which allows users to save more time of their lives.
- Innovation Prize, also by TAG Heuer, was awarded to CMED, from Bangladesh.
- Public Prize: one of the highlights of the day is when the public gets to vote for its favourite startup. This year, the Office for Economic Affairs (SPECo) has decided to power it by bestowing the winner, Junkbot Robotics, with a premium gift from Veuve Clicquot, a company from Switzerland and all the support from Canton de Vaud in the future.
The 12 finalist startups were:
- CMED, finalist startup from Bangladesh
- Celcoin, finalist startup from Brazil
- Agrocenta, finalist startup from Ghana
- Junkbot Robotics, finalist startup from United Arab Emirates
- Redcapital, finalist startup from Chile
- Payit, finalist startup from Mexico
- Eve.calls, finalist startup from Ukraine
- GiftedMom, finalist startup from Cameroon
- KarGo, finalist startup from Myanmar
- Medsaf, finalist startup from Nigeria
- SayurBox, finalist startup from Indonesia
- EMGuidance, finalist startup from South Africa