Promoting digital agricultural innovation in Africa

Project description

Title: Scaling digital agriculture innovations through start-ups (SAIS)
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global project
Lead executing agency: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2019 to 2023


The agricultural and food industry is an important economic sector in many African countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, it has the potential to drive economic development and contribute to food security and income generation. 

Innovative solutions are the key to boosting productivity, income and employment. New digital ideas for the agricultural and food industry are coming from the growing local start-up scene more and more. With their digital innovations, young companies often address well-known challenges, including the availability of advisory services, market access for small farmers and improving the quality of cultivation and harvesting methods. Additional challenges include organising storage, logistics and processing, and access to financial services for the rural population. 

However, despite beneficial innovations and viable business models, most start-ups fail to achieve a wide-impact and therefore also fail to drive forward the modernisation and development of the agricultural and food industry. The solutions developed reach only a limited number of users. A key challenge is therefore to distribute the available digital innovations for the agricultural and food sector in a way that generates secure incomes.  


Proven digital innovations for the agricultural and food sector have been distributed in selected markets in a way that generates income.


Start-ups that provide innovative digital solutions for the agricultural and food sectors but have not yet reached scale will be identified across Africa. The selected start-ups will be supported through individual measures for business expansion or development. This will be done by developing organisational, financial and technological capacities to increase readiness among business partners and investors to invest. 

Arranging strategic partnerships for growth and finding investors will make it possible to scale the digital innovations. To this end, the supra-regional project works in three fields of action: (1) identifying and selecting start-ups, (2) developing the management and technological capacities of start-ups, (3) promoting access to investment and partnerships for growth.


The project contributes to multiple Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda: Sustainable Development Goal 1 – ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’, SDG 2 – ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’, SDG 8 – ‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’, and SDG 9 – ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’.