A startup that manufactures pesticides from essential oils in order to increase crop yields for farmers is taking home the top prize at the Tech-I 2019 pitch competition finals. Donatus Njoroge, founder of Vinis Limited was named the first place winner during the Tech-I finals by a panel of experts judges. He will receive a prize package worth $65,000 USD in startup resources.
Njoroge has been working on Vinis Limited for the last 8 years. He created his startup after losing his uncle to cancer because of exposure to pesticides, which is why the pesticides by Vinis are made with essential oils.
The startup is active with multiple investors who help Njoroge define the business model he uses for his company and growth. When it launched, Vinis received funding support from USAID Kenya and now is receiving more support from the GIST Network to continue growing in the region.
“I feel good! I feel excited to continue to making an impact in my country and my continent, especially with the issue of food security which is one of Kenya’s big four agenda items,” said Njoroge. “I will use this capital and training to define my business model to improve the growth of my business over the next year.”
As the 2019 winner, Njoroge will receive $15,000 USD in seed capital and $50,000 in Amazon Web Services Credits. AWS Credits can be used to purchase training for cloud computing or to scale on the AWS cloud – critical resources for science and technology startups. He will also receive a one hour mentor session with David Hamod from the National U.S.-Arab chamber of Commerce.
Along with Njoroge, seven other young innovators took home prizes at Tech-I 2019. They include:
- Syed Abrar Ahmed from Pakistan won second place. His prizes include $8,000 USD in seed capital and $20,000 in AWS Credits. Ahmed founded AzaadHealth, which works to improve patient health record sharing in order to mitigate medical errors.
- Varinder Singh from India won third place. His prizes include $2,000 USD in seed capital and $15,000 in AWS credits. Singh founded GFF Innovations, which converts biomass into very fine powder and activated carbon. This reduces pollution in India from burning waste.
- Anatoli Kirigwajjo from Uganda won first place idea. His prizes include $5,000 USD in seed capital and $25,000 in AWS Credits. Kirigwajjo’s startup idea Yunga Technologies is to create a local rescue digital network that allows neighbors to help each other.
- Isaac Sesi from Ghana won second place idea. His prizes include $3,000 USD in seed capital and $15,000 USD in AWS Credits. Sesi’s startup idea FarmSense is a low cost soil monitoring solution that helps farmers monitor their soil in order to produce higher crop yields.
- Ariuntuya Altangerel from Mongolia won third place idea. Her prizes include $1,500 USD in seed capital and $10,000 in AWS Credits. Altangerel’s startup idea BETME is an education app that makes it fun and easy for people to learn English.
- Queenny Alvarado from Ecuador was named the Outstanding Female Entrepreneur. Her prizes include $1,000 USD in seed capital and $25,000 in AWS Credits. Alvarado founded Anuka, which uses microalgae to consume large amounts of carbon dioxide and cleans the air we breathe.
- Heriberto Solano from Colombia was awarded with the Spirit of Tech-I. His prizes include $500 in seed capital and $5,000 in AWS Credits. Solano founded Black Square, which create precision agriculture tools farmers can use improve how they monitor the health of their crops.
GIST Tech-I is an annual pitch competition for science and technology innovators around the world. The competition is hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s flagship entrepreneurship program, the GIST Initiative; and is implemented by AAAS.
Through the competition, aspiring innovators submit their ideas and startups online for review by industry experts. Those who pass the review advance to the semifinals and global public vote. Entrepreneurs who get the most votes from the public then advance to the Tech-I finals at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
This year, more than 120,000 votes were cast by the public in support of these entrepreneurs – effectively driving forward innovations in science and technology. Of the more than 80 semifinalists, only 24 advanced to the finals. They represented ideas and startups from 18 countries around the world, in sectors from health care to energy.
At the Tech-I finals, these 24 entrepreneurs received two-days of business and pitch training, before competing on an international stage in front of an expert panel of judges.
Since 2011, innovators from around the world have showcased their science and technology ventures to an international audience through GIST Tech-I pitch competitions. More than 1.8 million votes have been cast in support of these young founders, helping driving their innovation forward and making the world a better place.