Heifer Project International organized the final event of the 2022 AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge where the Top-5 Finalists compete on a pitch competition held at Elilly International Hotel on 13 June 2022, Addis Ababa.
In this final-round pitch competition, Meskerem Yemaneh Kahsay, 27 years old BSc holder in Automotive Engineering from Bahirdar University, has become the 2022 AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge Champion and received the $10,000 cash prize. (Innovators and their innovation idea)
Yishak Amdeselassie Fentamaryea, 25 years old BSc holder in Information Technology, Wello University and BA holder in Management from Unity University, received the $6,500 cash prize as the 2nd Place Champion, while Samuel Getachew Mulugeta & Yosef Lakew Feyssa, 22 and 21 years old, received the $3,500 cash prize as the 3rd Place Champion. Samuel and Yosef are 3rd year students at Addis Ababa Science and Technology University in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Software Engineering, respectively.
In her opening remark, Mrs. Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President for Africa at Heifer Project International, reminded participants that the program started in 2021 because of realizing the challenges as well as the opportunities of the agricultural sector in Africa. Despite the apparent challenges, Mrs. Adesuwa noted, “We saw a large amount of arable land, a continent with a potential not only feed itself but feed the world, we also saw a growing youth population that could easily embrace technology and capable of transforming not only Africa but the whole world.” Mrs. Adesuwa congratulated those achieved to be among the finalists and stressed that the commitment of Heifer is not only the competition, nor the prize – “Heifer will not stop by awarding prizes, but we are going to invest in winners and supporting them to build sustainable businesses.”
H.E. Ato Nigusu Tilahun, State Minister, Ministry of Labor and Skill, made the Keynote speech at the 2022 AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge final pitch competition. H.E. Ato Nigusu congratulated the finalists and indicated his Ministry gives due attention to the objective of the event and Heifer’s initiative. He added, “It facilitates, helps, and supports our endeavors in creating jobs for our youth.” The State Minister also asserted, “With the largest employment share, agriculture is by far the major employer in Ethiopia, and the sector is still with the highest potential in reducing poverty and unemployment in Ethiopia.”
However, H.E. State Minister Ato Nigusu, emphasized, that recently rural unemployement is growing in an alarming speed and agriculture has been unable to create the required number of jobs due to various factors, including climate change and its impact, salinity in arid and semi-arid areas, acidity in high rainfall areas, pests and dependency on rain-fed farming.
“Entrepreneurs can make a difference in the sector”, said Ato Nigusu, “this can be done by uncovering technologies that can improve agriculture withstand climate change impacts, by engaging in production and distribution of inputs like fertilizers, small machineries, improved seeds and chemicals, third by financing the production process in creating new products and promoting on-farm employment.”
Ato Nigusu also stressed, “Entrepreneurs can play a significant role in revising the stigma on agriculture and repositioning agriculture as a desirable career.” Furthermore, he added that the AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge competition will help build a platform which celebrates and rewards innovative Ethiopians through supporting innovative business ideas. Ato Nigusu finally extended his thanks and appreciation to Heifer Project International for organizing the AYuTe Ethiopia Challenge, Fair & Sustainable Ethiopia for facilitating the competition process, the jury members for giving their time to evaluate and identify the winning innovators, as well as other stakeholders who contributed their part for the success of the competition.
Ato Tewodros Yeshiwork, Country Director of Heifer Project International Ethiopia Office, presented objectives and activities of Heifer in the world and in Africa, explained future and current development initiatives in Ethiopia. He said, one of the three principle pillars of Heifer is permanence of impact, “We want to make sure that everything we do is going to last even after Heifer completed its tasks and moves away.” He further asserted that Heifer will going to work with all finalists one way or another as long as their innovation is in line with the objectives and even if they don’t win the current competition.
Full Press Release can be accessed HERE.