African start-ups are quickly becoming crucial to achieving socio-economic development to transcend the prevailing sustainable development challenges. Thus, there is an urgent need for innovative solutions to leapfrog development in Africa towards achieving the SDGs through a particular focus on private sector approaches and investment. The private sector and African start-ups have been identified as part of the solution to improving agricultural value chains, with digitalization a key strategy due to its potential for productivity increases and its scalability.  

While there are other challenges that enfeeble the emergence and upscaling of Startups in Africa, one key aspect holding back African start-ups and its support system is a general lack of market knowledge. This project intends to bridge this market knowledge gap by exploring limitations in market transparency, innovation trends, market structure and market agents (i.e. the African start-ups themselves). 

Findings from the project are expected to deliver direct impact for African start-ups, the public sector (national African governments) and international development organizations such as GIZ, investors and academia. Overarching research and stakeholder outputs will be specific for each of these groups. In addition to production of publishable outputs and creation of a Startup website, knowledge transfer into start-up accelerator and skill development of African start-ups will be promoted through collaborations with other GIZ initiatives. Startups will be engaged through workshops which will include sessions on innovation archetypes, scaling impact, prototyping, designing pitch decks and measurement and communication of impact. 

Objectives of the project 

General objective 
  • To publish research to support impact acceleration of African agriculture start-ups through generating and sharing knowledge.  
Specific objectives  
  • To create open-access transparency in the African start-up market related to agriculture and digitalization, and increase the visibility of African start-ups 
  • To identify consolidated innovation archetypes, key trends and associated level of maturity in the start-up market across value chain stage-specific and support system specific technology and business model innovations 
  • To identify the role of market support structures for emergence and scale of African start-ups  
  • To improve the knowledge base for African start-ups 


Both qualitative and quantitative methods will be employed including; 

  • Conceptualization of terms such as market transparency 
  • Desk research-based data collection on African start-up companies 
  • Interview-based data collection: Identification of different technology, business model and, where relevant, frugal innovation 
  • On-boarding of African start-ups onto global digital start-up platforms. Scanning the landscape of start-up platforms such as Crunchbase, Pitchbook, AngelList and others. 
  • Mapping the innovations identified onto one or several agriculture value chain stages 
  • Output generation and dissemination 



Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)