The Project Incubator Award, which was first launched in 2008, has been instrumental in identifying, showcasing and supporting innovative and entrepreneurial agricultural initiatives around the African continent. Since its inception, the prize has become one of the key features of the annual EMRC AgriBusiness Forums.
Considering the exceptional calibre of the 2015 finalists, the Award jury decided to allocate the US$15,000 prize to two winners: first place went to Ruth Kinoti, of Shalem Investments in Kenya, and a runner-up prize was awarded to Voziyo Innocente, from the Mama Soleil Palm oil cooperative in the DRC.
Shalem Investments started by buying grain in bulk and selling it to local institutions, with help of a loan from the teachers’ union. In due course, Shalem Investments expanded and by 2004 Kinoti got another loan, this time from the Cooperative Bank. In 2009, East Africa Breweries, a major Kenyan brewer, started producing a low-cost beer with sorghum, which helped create a market for local farmers. Shalem has responded to this opportunity by helping 1,200 small-scale sorghum producers in Kenya gain access to markets, increasing their collective production to 4,000 metric tonnes over the past 5 years, and creating significant gains in income and productivity.