Demonstration day for young Zambian agribusiness entrepreneurs in Lusaka

In celebration of the forthcoming United Nations International Youth Day (12 August) the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Lusaka-based innovation and technology hub BongoHive, in partnership with Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research in Africa (AICCRA) hosted a Demonstration Day for the three groups of young startups in its Internship and Innovation Grant (I2G) innovation challenge in Lusaka, Zambia.

With the aim of developing innovators’ and creative students' capacity to design potential solutions for private companies’ needs and challenges in doing business in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and climate information services (CIS) value chains and scaling of CSA-CIS bundles, the I2G in partnership with BongoHive held an innovation challenge. Out of 72 applications, 10 groups were selected to participate and three groups with innovative ideas stood out and were awarded additional support to commercialize their innovation and build their business competences.

Video: IWMI and BongoHive, in partnership with AICCRA hosts a “Dragons Den” style Demonstration Day for young Zambian entrepreneurs in Lusaka, Zambia

The additional support included entrepreneurship readiness training, prototype development, and incubation. The teams showcased their solutions at the Demonstration Day which served as an invaluable opportunity to witness the transformative outcomes of the innovation challenge and for stakeholders to engage directly with the entrepreneurs behind these innovations. The Demonstration Day took place at BongoHive, 19 Katima Mulilo Road, Lusaka, Zambia and was an opportunity for the top three performing startups from the I2G innovation challenge to demonstrate their solutions for climate-smart agriculture and climate information services to a judging panel of industry experts.

“It started from a dream on how to package Zambian flavoured snacks. AICCRA and BongoHive helped us to refine our ideas, particularly in such a way that can support local farmers by incentivising the use of climate smart agriculture. We did this through increasing their market share and coming up with a sustainable model that is good for the environment and our Zambian economy,” says Mwiche Mukoma from Green Giraffe which is one of the top three winners.

Joseph Simukoko (Green Giraffe), Dr Mirriam Makungwe (IWMI), Mukoma Mwiche (Green Giraffe), Phindiwe Nkosi (IWMI) and Dorus Silwiyza (BongoHive)

As said by the interns

Based on the interns' feedback, some of the key findings included setting a platform whereby students were able to put to practice what they were taught by indigenous and tertiary institutions. For example, Bhatram Phiri, a finance intern says that "this internship has provided me the opportunity to put in practice the Financial Modelling knowledge that I received in University. I have acquired an even wider scope of knowledge." 

It was also described by many interns as something that grew them and their knowledge of the sector. "My personal character has been enriched due to the interactions I've had with different people, and exposure to diverse cultures during my internship," says Gwen Mbunji, a horticulture intern. The sentiments were resounded by Martha Mambwe, an administration assistant intern and Namwaka Walubita, an agribusiness intern who stressed out the multicultural aspects of the internship and how it grew their interpersonal skills and knowledge of the sector.  

In the pursuit of scaling

The I2G challenge has seen young innovators from across Zambia competing to develop innovative solutions in CSA and CIS. The I2G supports young entrepreneurs, professionals and graduate students through private sector working experience and demand-driven innovation development. It aims at strengthening the pipeline of the agribusiness ecosystem by providing capacity strengthening opportunities such as the innovation challenge and incubation for Zambian youths to tackle real-life CSA/CIS challenges faced by agri-SMEs.

According to Dr Concillia Monde of the School of Natural Resources at Copperbelt University, such programs need to be supported and scaled to reach an even bigger market. “AICCRA and the Copperbelt University are both interested in climate smart agriculture. We are at the core of training people who implement these concepts and to take up the scaling discussion in growing such good works. I hope the finalists will act as motivators to other youth so that they too can get involved and run with the baton,” added Dr Monde.

Adding to the scaling conversation Nchimunya Bbebe, Lecturer from Mulungushi University highlighted that “The best way to prepare [for climate change] is to create technologies that will help us ride the wave into the future. I can also not overemphasize the need to scale such technologies.

Winners of the Internship and Innovation Grant (I2G) innovation challenge in Lusaka, Zambia

Unfolding “greener” paths

The challenge comprised three key phases. In the first innovation challenge phase, the ten selected groups were taken through a human-centred design process to identify challenges faced by their fellow youth through a design sprint. This phase culminated to pitch practice, and a pitch day, where each team had to pitch their solutions to industry experts, serving as a jury. The three (3) groups that exhibited high potential for scaling were identified during the Pitch Day (which took place before the Demo Day), The winning team was awarded K24,000 (K8000 each), the second prize was  K18,000 (K600 each), and the third team received K12,000 (K3000 each). Additionally, these winning teams were selected to proceed to the incubation and internship phases.

The incubation phase involved one-on-one business modelling, marketing, financial, strategy, legal, investor readiness, and technology coaching facilitated by the BongoHive Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship team. The Incubation process was for a period of 3-6 months. The third and final phase included the Demonstration Day on 9 August 2023.

“The event lived up to AICCRA’s pursuits of harnessing climate smart agriculture through climate smart innovation development. AICCRA is a project that helps to deliver a climate-smart African future driven by science and innovation in agriculture. This Demo Day strove to bring young minds together to showcase the transformative outcomes that comes from elevating communities to dig in deep, be empowered, and raise the horn of a “greener”, climate smart Zambia – and Africa at large. The next step is scaling and bringing along Zambian farmers, the government and the private sector,” concludes Dr Mirriam Makungwe, Research Officer at IWMI.

Dr Concillia Monde (Copperbelt University) & Dr Mirriam Makungwe (IWMI)


Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) helps deliver a climate-smart African future driven by science and innovation in agriculture. AICCRA works to make climate information services and climate-smart agriculture more accessible to millions of smallholder farmers across Africa. With better access to technology and advisory services—linked to information about effective response measures—farmers can better anticipate climate-related events to take preventative action that helps their communities safeguard livelihoods and the environment.

AICCRA has teams in six countries: Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. While AICCRA teams focus on accelerating impacts of CGIAR innovation in focus countries, AICCRA also has a number of regional initiatives that complement national activities to deliver benefits for a broader range of stakeholders across East, West and Southern Africa. For more information, click here.

About BongoHive:

BongoHive is Zambia’s first technology and innovation hub. Established in May 2011 and based in Lusaka, the co-founders, all enthusiastic programmers, sought to address the gaps they experienced working within the local technology industry leading to a lack of coordination, skills exposure and productivity. BongoHive has evolved to assist scalable startups of any background by enhancing skills, accelerating growth, strengthening networks, increasing collaboration, providing a forum for ideas exchange and reducing the barriers to entrepreneurship. For more information, click here.

Media contacts:

Phindiwe Nkosi

Communications & Knowledge Management Expert, IWMI


Tel: +27 72 618 4275

Dorus Kampamba

Junior Innovation Associate, BongoHive


Tel: +260 97 641 5974

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