The Nepal Innovation Challenge – AgriTECH was officially launched in Kathmandu on 29 April. This Challenge is part of the global Financial Innovation Lab Initiative run by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). The challenge is hosted in collaboration with NEXT Venture Corp. and Idea4Scale.
The objective of UNCDF for this challenge is to support innovators and existing start-up companies to create, innovate and implement technology-driven solutions for small farmers and the private sector companies serving those farmers.
The agriculture sector in Nepal contributes 31% to the GDP and employs 68% of the population. However, small 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. UNCDF wants to find solutions that alleviate these problems.
Who can participate?
The AgriTECH Challenge is open for start-up companies as well as anyone who has an innovative idea that can solve these demand and supply side challenges. The challenge will run for a period of 6 months where participants will be taken on a journey to turn their ideas into actions.
The challenge will have a dedicated pool of national and international experts who will help the participants develop their products and services. The participants will also be given an opportunity to LIVE test their solutions in the market during product prototype phase of the challenge.
Speaking on the launch event, Ms. Valerie Julliand, UN Resident Coordinator said: ”1 out of 4 people in Nepal is directly or indirectly associated with the agriculture sector. But, rarely do we hear about technology-driven solutions being implemented in the agriculture sector. Through Nepal Innovation Challenge, I am hopeful to see sustainable innovative solutions that benefit the smallholder farmers and their farmlands in Nepal.”
It is worth noting that the solution that your plan or your project brings doesn’t have to be a financial solution. According to the Agritech page, it can be anything with a clear business idea. The solution needs to demonstrate the value for end-user and contribute to improving their financial well-being. Another thing you should know is that startups can also participate as one team.
Prize and Dates
The challenge will announce 2 winners who will be awarded grant up to USD 30,000 and 1-year technical assistance from UNCDF to pilot the product/service and develop its scale-up plan.
If you are someone who is interested in this subject, go to Agritech’s website for more information.
The application deadline for the project is 19th May. The finalists for the program will be announced by 24th May.