Silicon Valley for Africa?

Digital production centres create pull effects. SAIS aims to use this to make innovative solutions from start-ups more widespread.

© GIZ/ Stephanie Cheesman
Ruanda, Kigali: Dioscore Shikama is checking his company`s website.

Innovations through Start-ups

(c) Christoph Püschner/Brot für die Welt
Kongo, Bukavu: Training center CAPA

Start-ups have the potential to change the world. Including in Africa. The GIZ project “scaling digital agriculture innovations through start-ups“ (SAIS) adapts the idea of Silicon Valley to the context of African countries so that it can be used to develop the local food and agriculture sectors. It aims to make the digital solutions developed by the start-ups more widespread, thereby improving the income of the users of the digital solutions. As such, SAIS is part of a new trend in Africa - tackling the continent’s challenges by means of young companies with big plans.


In the last few years, the number of start-up solutions for the food and agriculture sector (“Agri-Tech“) has grown exceptionally quickly in Africa. And while the start-ups receive a lot of help in the early stages, they have fewer supporters at the start of the growth phase. This is where SAIS comes in. The project aims to use promising start-ups to spread and scale innovative technologies and solutions for agricultural production, processing and consumption. However, unlike in Silicon Valley, this is not exclusively about profits, but rather using the innovations developed by the start-ups to create income opportunities for their users.


SAIS supports African start-ups in the food and agriculture sector in the growth phase in order to help spread their innovations. These may be from a wide range of areas. For example e-Commerce, the sale of products on online market places or platforms, or other Business-to-Business solutions. The transfer of information and knowledge is also an important area for farmers: digital technologies can be used to provide know-how on cultivation or plant diseases or to obtain local weather data. A financial technology (FinTec) that gives producers and processors access to capital or insurance providers is another area, as well as approaches to better Supply Chain Management. SAIS also supports completely new approaches to technology, such as innovations from Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Big Data. The aim is to improve the performance of the supported start-ups to ultimately make them attractive for businesses and investments.


Each year, the project provides selected start-ups from the food and agriculture sector that offer such technologies with tailored “Company Building“ measures in order to improve their business model. These include measures to improve marketing, product optimisation or improving financial management, as well as support with regard to legal issues. This is achieved by direct coaching over several months – and by integrating other service providers for particular tasks.


The successful start-ups can meet various potential customers at events, demo days, trade fairs and network meetings. The idea behind this is for the young companies to receive additional funding to help them make their products more widespread. 


Together with its partners, SAIS is supporting a new generation of African start-ups. In Africa - but also elsewhere - start-ups mean one thing in particular: Finding solutions for society’s challenges and thinking big.


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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is a globally active provider of international cooperation for sustainable development. It has more than 50 years of experience in a wide range of fields.  

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