Wanted: mobile apps for African agriculture

There’s no dearth of mobile applications for agricultural workers. Now, the World Bank is hunting for those which can be widely adopted in Africa.

And so infoDev, a World Bank Group global partnership program that helps developing countries harness innovative technologies and business models to fuel inclusive, sustainable growth, has launched the mAgri challenge. The competition is very specific about what it is looking for in applicants, welcoming entries from those who:

  • Have a mobile business based in Africa.

  • Have a working prototype of a mobile agriculture application that has growth potential.

  • Are looking to grow their business both locally and abroad.

  • Are interested in innovative business approaches and coaching that could be applied to their business to drive its growth.

Entering the competition entails answering a questionnaire, submitting a business pitch outlined in a PowerPoint presentation, and uploading a one-minute video on YouTube or Dropbox showing how the proposed product works (screenshots and descriptions of not more than 750 words are acceptable if creating a video is not possible).

The deadline for submitting entries is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time of Aug. 15.

The mAgri challenge is part of a World Bank series and one of many launched within the aid industry in recent years. Such a proliferation of challenges risks creating what is called a “competition fatigue.” In a blog, Maja Andjelkovic, a mobile innovation specialist at InfoDev, says that sentiment is completely understandable, as some competitions failed to continue supporting mobile entrepreneurs after the award of prizes. But she suggests mAgri will be different.

“This journey from mind to market was at the forefront of the design process for the mAgri Challenge, where we relied on a number of lessons drawn from our own and others’ experiences with mobile app competitions,” Andjelkovic writes.

Five winners will be chosen. The prize: an invitation to a mobile startup camp in November 2013 where the winning teams get a chance to refine their products and their business pitch to angel investors.

Read our previous #innov8aid.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.