The GSMA Agritech Accelerator Bootcamp: Building synergies to deliver on the Accelerator’s objectives

‘The cross-learning from other innovators and networking opportunities has been amazing,’ remarks Peter Okonmah, co-founder of Nigerian smart farming agritech FarmSpeak Technology Limited. This is just one example of the many positive testimonials validating the purpose of the two-day GSMA AgriTech Accelerator Bootcamp held in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 15th to 16th, 2023.

After kicking off implementation of the GSMA Accelerator in June 2023, this Bootcamp enabled the first in-person gathering of representatives from the ten agritech startups, the GSMA AgriTech team, our Accelerator implementation partners (Altai Consulting, Beanstalk, and Bopinc), and our donor GIZ. The Bootcamp served as a valuable platform for our cohort, providing capacity building, promoting cross-learning, and nurturing networking opportunities among the ten agritechs.

Focus of the Bootcamp

The Bootcamp’s objectives included strengthening the cohort’s capacity in UX design, fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, and gender inclusion. The event also leveraged the Mobile World Congress Kigali (MWC) Conference as an opportunity for the agritech startups to interact with other innovators and contribute to relevant conversations on powering digital and accelerating Africa.

Key takeaways from the Bootcamp

1. Agritech presentations sparked cross-learning as founders realise they face similar challenges.

Each agritech presented an overview of their company, including their business model and key challenges.  Where relevant, product demos were used to bring the services to life.  It was clear that despite representing eight different markets, several common themes were experienced by the cohort. In the end, these conversations kicked off the cross-organisational learnings that lie at the heart of the Bootcamp’s objectives.

2. Raising investments is one of the biggest hurdles for agritechs

Two intensive investment readiness sessions were facilitated by our implementation partner Beanstalk. In these sessions, we addressed the underlying questions agritechs grappled with and areas they primarily need support. Many of the cohort admitted that fundraising has been a difficult and lengthy process, with most investors lacking experience with agritech start-ups and having high expectations, particularly in terms of evidence of traction. Real-life case studies of the key elements that made other start-ups very successful at fundraising, as well as how to handle a negotiation with an investor, were among the crucial insights sought after by agritech companies. They were also keen to understand how to value their startups, which information they should share with a potential investor, and how to identify a suitable investor in the first place.

‘Securing investment is not a transaction, it is a relationship and trust-building exercise that is developed over time.’ Cal Archibald, Beanstalk.

The investment readiness sessions were brought to life through a Q&A session with Loraine Achar, Senior Investment Associate at Founders Factory Africa, a leading agritech investor in Africa. Insights included pointing out that the startup teams are equally as important as the polished presentations placed in front of potential investors time and again. She challenged the organisations to understand and internalise their existence story, which is a basis for striking a connection with the investors. The session sparked high engagement, and the discussions continued long after the session ended.

3. Incorporating user insights into product design helps improve the accessibility and usability of a service.

UX capacity building is a key objective of the AgriTech Accelerator and this session emphasised why user-centricity is key in designing digital agriculture solutions. The session focused on highlighting the UX research process, which entails seeking insights on user needs and behaviour, and getting their feedback and validation on the designed solution. Auke Douma, UX designer at Bopinc, also delved into how Product Iteration Workshops (PIW) allow design teams to analyse user feedback, identify insights and incorporate these insights into the design of their products.

‘It is not always about designing the most viable product, but rather the most lovable product.’  Auke Douma, UX Designer, Bopinc.

FarmSpeak Technology Limited and Traderex Ghana Limited, two of our cohorts who had recently experienced the PIW process with GSMA and Bopinc, were invited to share their perspectives and learnings with the cohort. They pointed out how incorporating user insights into product development has enabled them to make their solution more relevant. For example, they were amazed to discover that certain features they thought important were not a priority for users. While both organisations are currently working on implementing the improvements identified during the workshop, they shared that this experience has helped them rethink their entire product development process.

4. Design to address the specific needs, constraints, and preferences of both men and women farmers.

The Bootcamp was also an opportunity to walk the cohort members through the third module of the GSMA Accelerator’s gender inclusivity workshop, which borrows heavily from GSMA’s gender inclusivity toolkit, with the intention to build the cohort capacity in terms of designing and scaling services in a gender-inclusive manner. Participants started by seeking how to conduct UX research to identify the needs of women customers. They looked into appropriate timing and locations for conducting the research with women farmers and explored suitable methodology and skills to have within the research team.

The participants reviewed a case study centered around the persona of a female farmer. They collaborated in groups to brainstorm solutions aimed at enhancing the product featured in the case study to effectively tackle the barriers they identified.

Gender inclusion is gaining prominence as a top priority within agritech. The session witnessed heightened interest and engagement, notably during the group presentations, where a multitude of innovative ideas were exchanged regarding designing for women farmers.

 5. Using impact data helps create a clear and believable narrative to attract investors.

During the bootcamp, our cohort also had the opportunity to learn from a joint session by the GSMA AgriTech and its Monitoring & Evaluation implementation partner Altai Consulting on the importance of telling a compelling impact story. The session highlighted how to identify which data to collect to support your impact story and gave an overview of best practices for data collection through user surveys.

‘A proper impact assessment will help you attract investment and investors.’ Sarah Mohrmann, Project Manager, Altai Consulting.

Key takeaways included linking what a service does with its intended medium- and long-term impact on users, as well as steps required for users to experience impact in practice, to create a clear and believable narrative. This mapping exercise can be used as a guide to identify a lean set of key performance indicators, which are specific, unambiguous, and robust. The session further gave practical steps on designing user surveys and ways to leverage existing service databases to compute robust service usage data.

6. Networking with digital innovators at MWC Kigali presenting further opportunities to pitch and learn.

The Accelerator Bootcamp directly preceded the Mobile World Congress Kigali conference. This was an opportunity for our cohort of agritechs to interact and network with other stakeholders in the development and technology industries. The agritechs had access to the GSMA Mobile for Development stand, where they had an opportunity to showcase their solution to the conference attendees while making complementing connections for future collaborations. They also attended the GSMA AgriTech-led panel session that comprised two of our current Accelerator organisations, FarmSpeak Technology Limited and MooMe, and discussed how innovators are leveraging investments to accelerate digital agriculture ecosystems. The key insights from the panel discussion have been captured in the Investing in digital agriculture – Insights from the AgriTech’s panel discussion at MWC Kigali blog.


The GSMA AgriTech Accelerator Bootcamp in Kigali proved to be a transformative experience for the ten agritech start-ups, marked by collaborative learning and networking. Over the coming months, the Accelerator team will continue collaborating with its cohort of 10 agritech startups, assisting them in implementing the insights highlighted in this blog, including user-centric design, impact assessments, and investment readiness. We look forward to assessing our progress in our next gathering scheduled for the summer of 2024.

The GSMA AgriTech Accelerator is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported by the GSMA and its members.