The African Entrepreneurship Award (AEA) offers $1 million to all eligible African entrepreneurs with an existing business or just an idea. The Award Journey is made up of 4 rounds of mentoring and starts by applicants taking a few minutes to submit an idea and, begin a journey with real entrepreneurs who have been where they are today. Since its launch by BMCE Bank of Africa in 2015, the awards have recognized 33 entrepreneurs, who were supported by more than 300 African and global mentors.
This year, in the 3rd edition of the Awards, 41 finalists out of 5349 applicants from 19 African countries were brought together for a bootcamp in Casablanca, Morocco earlier in the month of December, where Ghana was alone represented by Kwame Ababio. A concluding ceremony took place on December 11 to reward the most impactful sustainable projects in the three categories of the programme: Education, Environment and Unchartered fields. In all, 12 winners from nine African countries shared a prize money of US$1 million after the winners were selected by a jury presided over by the chairman of BMCE Bank of Africa: Othman Benjelloun.
First prizes went to South Africa’s Louise Williamson, Tanzania’s Allen Kimambo, Nigeria’s Folashade Amusa, Kenya’s Adan Mohammed, Nigeria’s Sylvester Mujakperuo, Cameroon’s Flavien Simo, South Africa’s Paul Bartels and Ghana’s Kwame Ababio.
Whilst Innovation prizes going to Morocco’s Meryam El Ouafi, Morocco’s Badr Idrissi, Uganda’s Geoffrey Ssekatawa, and Rwanda’s Christelle Kwizera.
The Environment is critical to ensure Africa works together in all sectors to promote innovations that will protect the livelihood of current and future generations. As 11.3 million hectares of land are ravaged every year by poor agricultural systems, over-grazing, and deforestation, the AEA Award was looking for business ideas that will impact the environment with the potential to scale across Africa.
Kwame Ababio: Ghana – Startup, Green Afro-Palms (GAP)
Inventing efficient palm oil cultivation and processing technology for farmers
Kwame Ababio’s business, Green Afro-Palms (GAP), puts more money in the pockets of smallholder palm farmers by introducing best practices to the sector. GAPs processing technology (GAPROTECH: 1,000 litres Palm oil / day) increases crop yields, and steers farmers away from non-sustainable practices. In Ghana, 80% of oil palm cultivation is low output and archaic. With Green Afro-Palms’ technology: GAPROTECH, smallholders now process nearly 3 times as much oils from their crops, and earn 3 times more.
GAP “uses this mechanization in the processing of yields from farmers,” and, Kwame says that partnership with smallholder farmers in Ghana “discourages them from allowing their farms to be felled and used in activities like illegal mining, which destroys lands.” The win-win process is good for smallholder farmers and the environment.
The Presidential Jury says Kwame “saw a problem of lack of incentives for smallholder palm farmers to continue cultivating and producing palm oils. Many farmers, in their processes, produce harmful smoke for the environment. This entrepreneur uses his companies own designed, portable processing plant to help small oil palm farmers.”
Due to hardship, Kwame says that over 70% of farmers have abandoned their farms. GAP offers solutions as an agri-business by using their technology to process oil palm into palm oils using the yields from farmer’s farms as raw materials. Farmers loan the technology to increase their production and GAP has developed sales channels for farmers to access for the finished processed palm oil.
The demand for palm oil is high with estimates of the global market in the tens of billions of dollars annually. Throughout West Africa, Kwame and GAP believes smallholder palm farmers can dramatically improve their methods, thus improving their livelihoods. With the prize from the African Entrepreneurship Award, Kwame’s GAP can soon scale and contribute significantly to the improvement of Africa’s agriculture and environment. See:
This is the First time in 3 years of the AEA competition for a Ghanaian company to win the first prize. Kwame Ababio from a growing agro-company Green Afro-Palms (GAP), who was the only Ghanaian in the 41 finalist of the 3rd edition of this competition, was adjudged winner of the first prize under the Environment Category.