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USAid to award part of the $184 million Development Innovation Ventures fund to startups in Africa

by Milicent Atieno

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has given out $18.4 million to startups picked for Development Innovation Ventures (DIV).

The majority of the startups picked under DIV have innovative solutions to tackle challenges in agriculture and energy. DIV purpose to support the discovery of better ways of addressing socio-economic challenges currently facing the world. The initiative does so by investing into startups seen to be capable of scaling up its innovative solution to reach as many people as possible.

Eight startups from Kenya are among the startups that will benefit from the $18.4 million funding by the USAID through the DIV program. These eight Kenyan startups are as follows:

FarmDrive: an IT startup firm that collects data on small-scale farmers and builds a credit scoring model. This data can then be used by money lending institutions to gauge the creditworthiness of the farmers.

PayGo Energy: This startup’s product is a fuel-stove that allows people to use cooking gas on a pay-as-you-go plan. PayGo Energy has fitted their gas cylinders with smart meters that work when the owner has paid for units of consumption via mobile money. The pay-as-you-go plan has proven to be an affordable way for households from the disadvantaged background to use gas for cooking instead of the environmentally-harmful firewood.

Sanivation: This startup converts human waste into briquettes.

Tulaa: a mobile money product targeting small-scale farmer and giving them loads.

PowerGen: It builds last-mile grid power distribution network in the high-density population.

Powerhive: Providing solar micro grids in the western parts of Kenya and leases low-cost appliances to the customers.

Keheala: An online platform providing information on behavioral interventions and disease management tools to encourage patients suffering from tuberculosis to adhere to their mediation. The service is also available on feature phone via USSD.

Other startups from the East African region to benefit from the DIV program include Burn Manufacturing and Instiglio from Uganda. As for Tanzania, the country will be represented by Devergy.

The value of funding for each startup will be based on their track record, their potential for growth and degree of impact their product/services. The funds will provided in three stages:

Proof of concept

Testing and positioning

Transitioning to scale

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