SokoFresh founder and CEO Denis Karema accepted the Ashden Award for the venture’s cold storage and market linkage services for smallholder farmers in Kenya.
More than 200 applications from innovators across the globe flooded the office of the prestigious Ashden Awards for climate solutions and innovations. The award recognizes trailblazers who are already mobilizing resources to act on the climate emergency. Enviu’s Kenya venture SokoFresh was among eight global winners. SokoFresh’s cold storage and market linkage services for smallholder farmers in Kenya won the 2022 Ashden Award for Energizing Agriculture. On behalf of the team, SokoFresh founder and CEO Denis Karema received the award in London on November 2.
SokoFresh fulfills a range of criteria that the Ashden award called for — supporting the community of smallholder farmers to efficiently harvest and store their produce; powering them to earn more income and adapt to new technologies; finding the right market; and creating more jobs.
The Ashden Award for Energizing Agriculture was supported by the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They focused on agriculture and nature as two areas that are critical to tackling the climate emergency.
Denis Karema received the award on behalf of the entire SokoFresh team, which build the venture from the ground up with rigorous and extensive processes, including issue analysis and numerous interviews with farmers.
Including farmers in the value chain
Incidentally, Sub-Saharan Africa relies on its smallholder farmers for food production. However, not being able to extend the shelf-life of their produce as well as find the right buyers results in an onerous post-harvest loss. This impedes farmers’ livelihoods, and burdens food availability.
SokoFresh has built a value chain to prevent such post-harvest losses. It has put smallholder farmers in Kenya at the core of its operations by hiring and bringing them together.
The Enviu venture taps into solar power to run cold storages to store the farmers’ fruits and vegetables. This extends the shelf-life of their fruits, and helps farmers aggregate enough quantities to find the right buyer. Besides, the bulk produce allows the SokoFresh team to negotiate for better prices, which is then passed to the farmers as their income. The app also acts as a platform where the farmers receive updates on the process and the right time for harvesting.
These efforts have proven — and continue to prove — one thing: A zero percent food loss value chain is possible, and it can be replicated across Sub-Saharan Africa.
As the SokoFresh team says, “It’s no longer a dream… because we are making it happen.”
Need for global collaboration
As he accepted the award, Denis shared what SokoFresh means to Sub-Saharan Africa, and urged stakeholders and innovators across the globe to join the effort.
Here is Denis’s acceptance speech: