For Agritech, Digital Health Startups, Enormous Opportunities In Africa and India

Ask any Israeli startup founder where they are currently focusing their market efforts and they’ll most likely tell you it’s the USA. It’s always been this way: for business and cultural reasons, the vast majority of Israeli tech entrepreneurs always first turn to the US. Some, increasingly, are scoping out Europe, and the more adventurous ones are even going as far as the Far East.

But startups around the world should begin looking more seriously at emerging markets for their growth plans. This isn’t just about impact and making the world a better place, this makes really good business sense.

According to a McKinsey report, Africa’s agri-food manufacturing sectorpresents tremendous market potential for companies across the value chain – from agritech and food production, to food processing and packaging. The UN says Africa’s food production industry is poised to be worth US$1 trillion by 2030 as the continent seeks to substitute imports with high-value domestically-manufactured food. As Africa’s population doubles over the next 30 years, the business opportunities in Africa ‘s agribusiness space should be enormous.

Start-Up Nation Central is working with an organization called AGRA –the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – to develop new technologies for the African farmer of the future. AGRA’s goal is to increase incomes and food security of 30 million smallholder farm households across 11 African countries — these are largely poor people who use crude farming methods and have very limited access to capital.

Here are some of the companies SNC is connecting to AGRA so they can enter Africa:

  1. Amaizz – Drying, refrigeration, and storage to reduce food losses in grains, cereals, and horticulture.
  2. SupPlant –Real-time Field Monitoring Technology.
  3. BioFeed– Pest control that uses the slow release of lures to manipulate insect behavior.

Africa is a huge continent, with lots of opportunities for the right tech entrepreneurs. But now let’s talk about India.

It’s time tech entrepreneurs also discovered the Indian market, especially technological solutions to water quality, poor farming productivity, and patchy health services. India accounts for 15% of the world’s population and is developing at a dizzying pace, shrugging off global trade tensions. The country’s gross domestic product grew 8.2% in the quarter ended June, a 2-year high. (China’s economy grew 6.7% in the quarter ended June).

But Israel’s tech startups, for instance, don’t recognize the Indian market as important, despite the big money in it. Some of this might have to do with the complicated Indian business culture.

But some companies SNC is helping, through local partners, are entering the Indian market and are showing great promise:

  1. GlucoMe— Smart Glucose Monitor and Insulin Pen Monitor. Data is seamlessly transferred to each patient’s smartphone, stored in the GlucoMe mobile app, and analyzed in the cloud-based Digital Diabetes Clinic.
  2. MobileODT –Early cancer detection combining advanced imaging, data and software applications.
  3. Ayala Water & Ecology – Technology for treating sewage and waste streams, rehabilitating affected water bodies, and re-balancing watersheds.

So the bottom line for tech startups: don’t be afraid of entering emerging markets—specifically Africa and India—because of their unique business and cultural challenges. There’s good business to be done there. You just need to find the right local partner first.

Guy is the General Manager of Start-Up Nation Central, a tech NGO serving as a GPS to the Israeli innovation ecosystem. Prior to joining Start-Up Nation Central, Guy was a marketing executive at Amdocs, Kodak, and Microsoft, where he won awards for marketing excellence.

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