Kathmandu, 14th May 2019
The Nepal Innovation Challenge: AgriTECH was officially launched in Kathmandu on 29th April 2019. This Challenge is part of the global Financial Innovation Lab Initiative run by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). In Nepal, the AgriTECH Challenge is hosted in collaboration with NEXT Venture Corp., an entrepreneurial support system, and Idea4Scale. This challenge aims to bridge the gap between agriculture and technology sector and support innovators and existing start-ups to develop solutions that address challenges for smallholder farmers and the private sector companies serving them.
The challenge is designed around two problem statements that address persisting challenges in both demand side and supply side of the agriculture sector. On the demand side, the agriculture sector in Nepal is an integral part of the economy which contributes 27% to the GDP and employs 80% of the population. However, smallholder farmers in Nepal face constraints such as access to finance, access to high-quality agriculture inputs and access to relevant agriculture as well as market information to sustain and scale-up their livelihoods.
On the supply side, many start-up companies and Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) are supporting the agriculture sector by offering pre-harvest management services such as contract farming, processing, trading, etc. However, start-ups and MSEs that are supporting the agriculture sector express recurring challenges such as lack of information dissemination channels, effective ways to ensure production standards, lack of data-driven demand and supply analysis and lack of digital systems that negatively impact their operational efficiency and value addition to the sector.
The AgriTECH Challenge is open for start-up companies as well as anyone who has an innovative idea that has the potential to solve demand or supply side challenges. The challenge will run for six months where participants will be taken on a journey to grow their ideas into actions. The selected teams will be offered tailored support to develop and refine the ideas and LIVE test it in the market along with other opportunities such as guidance from international best practices in the field of agriculture and technology. The challenge will award two winners with grant amount up to USD 30,000 each and year-long technical assistance from UNCDF to pilot the winning ideas. The last deadline of application is on May 19th, 2019.