Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine

U.S. Presidential Initiative:
Feed the Future

Funding Level:
$22 million
$13.2 million through Land O’ Lakes Inc. – International Development

May 2012 – May 2017

Activity Goals:

  • Enhance adoption of innovative agricultural technologies and practices
  • Improve agricultural productivity and markets
  • Increase private sector investment in agriculture and nutrition-related activities

Activity Accomplishments:

  • 546 innovation applications received in three waves of solicitation
  • 13 innovators from wave one and wave two now in proof of concept stage, i.e. testing their innovations in the field
  • Provided all awardee innovators with customized, short-term technical assistance in finance, business planning and strategy, ICT, monitoring and evaluation, etc. (on going)

Implementing Partners:
Land O’Lakes, Inc. - International Development, in partnership with Dalberg Global Development Advisors and, with funding to: Cohort I: MFarm Limited, Virtual City Limited, The Real IPM Company Limited, Wanda Organic Limited, Quest Agriculture Limited, Lachlan Kenya Limited, University of Nairobi, Cohort II: Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya Livestock Marketing Council, University of Nairobi, iProcure, Maseno University 

Key Partners:
Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Agriculture Sector Coordination Unit, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Pest Control Products Board

Activity Locations:
Nationwide with a focus on supporting interventions that will have a significant impact on the 27 priority Feed the Future counties: Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo, Garissa, Homa Bay, Isiolo, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Kitui, Machakos, Elgeyo Marakwet, Makueni, Marsabit, Meru, Migori, Nandi, Tharaka Nithi, Nyamira, Siaya, Taita Taveta, Trans Nzoia, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Vihiga and Wajir.


The Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine identifies, fosters, and brings to scale innovative market-driven solutions to persistent food insecurity, under-nutrition and poverty. The Innovation Engine seeks to partner with entrepreneurs who design new concepts, products and services to maximize their commercial potential, as well as nutritional and livelihoods benefits to the targeted communities. The Innovation Engine supports experimentation and rewards proven successes that represent game-changing approaches for thousands of Kenyan families.


In a similar manner to a venture capital fund, the Innovation Engine uses competitive and open processes to identify agriculture and nutrition innovations with the greatest potential for large and sustainable impacts. Such impacts include generating significant measurable increases in productivity, household income and nutrition in selected value chains such as dairy and non-dairy ruminant livestock, horticulture, maize and staple food crops.

The Innovation Engine strives to enable innovations to become fully sustainable in the market. It provides targeted financial support and technical assistance at different stages of the entrepreneurial life cycle to enable the adoption of these innovative approaches by target populations throughout Kenya.

Examples of innovative interventions that the program supports include agricultural varieties that are disease, pest and drought resistant, especially for alternative staple crops; facilitating improved access to farm inputs; reducing transaction costs to allow smallholder farmers better access to markets; using information and communication technologies to disseminate agricultural information more efficiently; and facilitating public-private investments.


Jamila Abass, CEO and Co-Founder of M-Farm Ltd. - one of the first seven awardees under the Innovation Engine program - has led the start-up company to widespread recognition since its establishment in 2010.  Through a mobile phone application, M-Farm seeks to address what Jamila calls an "asymmetry of information" for smallholder farmers, and make money in the process. The innovation goes beyond giving pricing information to farmers and links them to potential buyers of their produce. M-Farm sends groups of farmers information on buyers looking to purchase their produce and the prices they are offering. Farmers who can supply the produce then respond indicating so. Through agents whom it employs, M-Farm then verifies the produce being supplied, weighs, and collects it at the farm. Farmers are expected to receive payment within the day via M-Pesa.

A Bachelor of Science in Computer Science graduate, Jamila was one of the first African entrepreneurs to be admitted to the Unreasonable Institute's International Fellowship Program, where she trained in entrepreneurship in 2012. In 2010, Jamila participated in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Nokia mobile technology entrepreneurship program.

At just 29, this young entrepreneur has managed to attract organizational funding from numerous development partners including UK charity TechforTrade and the M-Pesa Foundation in Kenya. Jamila, one of 19 children from a poor family, left her job as an open source systems developer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute and joined Akirachix, an association that inspires and develops women in technology through networking, training and mentoring. M-Farm was launched soon after the all-girls' Akirachix team won a KSh. 1 million investment prize for the M-Farm concept, at IPO48 - a highly-competitive event which aims to bring emerging software applications and business concepts to the fore.

USAID Contact:
Makeda Tsegaye,
Activity Manager, USAID/Kenya,
Agriculture, Business and Environment Office
Tel:  (+254) 20 862 2000

Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine Contact:
Milton Lore
Chief of Party
Tel:  (+254) 0722 517 149


Updated October 2014


Last updated: October 06, 2014

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