Two Kenyan start-ups are among 100 technology firms that have made it to the 2020 Technology Pioneers list by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Twiga Foods, credited for lowering food costs in Africa by making supply chains more efficient, is one of the two firms on the list.
Twiga has attracted investments running into billions of shillings and is seen as the next big thing from Kenya.
The Twiga Foods model allows mobile technology, food producers, pack houses and vehicles to converge to deliver farm produce to urban retailers free of charge.
The model, which has been hailed for raising farmers’ yields while stabilising consumer prices and ensuring safety, has recently added fast-moving goods such as cooking oil to its deliveries.
The firm allows small shops, food vendors and grocery stores all the way down to mama mboga (small-scale vegetable vendors) to order supplies online and they are delivered the following day to their doorstep.
Lori Systems, the other Kenyan firm, is a tech-driven logistics services company that was recognised for seamlessly coordinating haulage across frontier markets.
Founded in 2016, Lori provides supply-chain management solutions to cargo owners, ensuring flexibility, reliability and cost savings. It is a replica of Uber only for cargo.
“This year’s class of Technology Pioneers are improving society and advancing their industries around the world,” said Ms Susan Nesbitt, WEF’s head of the Global Innovators Community.
“These are the companies that think differently and stand out as potential game changers. We are looking forward to the role they will play in shaping the future of their industries,” she said.
The award, in its 20th edition, recognises technology firms addressing global issues with cutting-edge innovations like artificial intelligence to protect climate and improve healthcare, among others.
This year’s awardees are leaders in carbon capture, alternative meat and circular economies, while others aim to address food security and financial access.
The firms are contributing to Covid-19 pandemic responses through testing and diagnostics.
Of the hundred firms selected, over one quarter are female-led, more than double the industry average.
These firms also come from diverse regions that stretch beyond traditional technology hubs, with companies using innovative technology in novel ways all around the world.
Other companies honoured include Brazil’s CargoX, which is digitising trucking to optimise logistics that can improve the livelihood of truckers in the country, while India’s ZestMoney is using its technology to transform the financial services industry, offering affordable credit to those who are unable to access this through traditional finance paths.
US-based Metawave was awarded for using AI and machine learning to enhance automotive sensors with the capability to make cars smarter and safer. In China, Sensoro has developed internet of things solutions to enhance smart city capabilities around the world.
Other Technology Pioneers are focusing their innovations on combating climate change like Polystyvert, which focuses on implementing a circular economy for plastics and Aleph Farms, which focuses on advancements of alternative means that can help promote a more sustainable food system.