Hivos announces Disrupt Seeds Ideathon

June 5, 2018

Open Source Seeds Disrupt! Ideathon

Hivos and Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) are organising the Open Source Seeds Systems Disrupt! Ideathon. The event will take place on 4-6 July 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Disrupt! Ideathon brings together ethical seed companies, organisations and technology (IT) based enterprises; with a revenue model for goods and service provision.

The main aim of the event is to get more social entrepreneurs involved and interested in delivering products and services  of quality to small holder farmers.  With diverse challenges in relation to access of diverse seeds, social entrepreneurs are expected to win back the trust of farmers in a resolve to enhance food security.

Furthermore, social entrepreneurs need to position themselves in times of rapid changes in the sector. With monopolization it becomes even more difficult to operate in the market. Distinguishing oneself  from the mainstream development is proof in realizing a food-secure future. Seeds that are of good quality and are free and will remain free to save, use and exchange are key in practicing climate-resilient agriculture.

Scale up from 2017

The first Disrupt! Ideathon was held from 15 – 17 February  2017 in Kenya. Eight entrepreneurs from Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana and The Netherlands with an interest in small holder farmers and diverse seeds were supported by coaches from Hivos , KCIC and seed experts from Bioversity International.

During the first two days of intense work, the social entrepreneurs developed next steps in their businesses and pitched their propositions to a jury and audience at the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi. Two social entrepreneurs from Kenya have since received mentorship support from Kenya Climate Innovation Centre.

Want to take part in this year’s Disrupt?

Feel free to join us for the two days when individuals and teams – supported by mentors and experts – bring their business idea to the next level- a disruptive level! At the end of the accelerator training, participants will pitch their idea to a jury and an audience of impact investors. The best ideas will leave with a support plan and follow up meeting with an investor.

We are targeting the following groups:

  • Invites: Teams or individuals with a market based initiative in the agriculture/seed sector and an interest in making seeds work for small holder farmers including: technology (IT) based enterprises; ethical seed companies; private breeders; community seed banks with a business arm; producer groups; farmer-breeders and (open source) seed networks with a revenue model for service provision.
  • Mentors with excellent inside knowledge in the seed sector to guide the social entrepreneurs and strengthen their value proposition.
  • Jury: A minimum of 3 judges (impact investors/experts)


This Disrupt! Ideathon will be facilitated by experienced ideathon trainers from Hivos, together with a facilitator from KCIC. The organizers will meet the costs of the meeting. Participants are expected to meet their accommodation costs. (The venue to be communicated at a later date and upon confirmation).


All questions can be directed to Willy Douma (, Boniface Kiome  ( ) and Ernest Chitechi  (

You can send an email to and  to indicate your interest before the 10 April 2018.

Please prepare a short write up answering the following questions and send them to the contact persons:

  1. Please send a short profile (half a page maximum based on why you start(ed) a seed business, what problem in the seed systems do you address and what is your solution)
  2. Send us your first ideas of a social value proposition ( two sentences)
  3. For _______(target customer), who ___________ (statement of the need or opportunity), our (product /service name) is _____ (product category) that  (statement of benefit)______
  4. Market : (bullet points with quantitification )
  5. Who are your customers ( to whom do you sell your product and /or service), what is the value that you create for them?
  6. How do you build a relationship with the customers?
  7. How do you sell your product and/or service), what is the value that you create for them?
  8. How do you build a relationship with the customers?
  9. How do you sell your product/service (shops, online sales)?
  10. Describe your product/service and why do you think this contributes to building an open source seed system (one paragraph)?
  11. Who is on the team?

About the organisers

Hivos is currently exploring the potential of an ‘open source seed systems’ approach that promotes innovation in and accessibility to seeds.  We work in East Africa with vulnerable small holder farmers living in areas prone to climate change.

Kenya Climate Innovation Centre provides holistic, country-driven support to accelerate the development, deployment and transfer of locally relevant climate and clean energy technologies.

Financial support

Hivos gratefully acknowledges the support of the Open Society Foundation. The meeting is part of a larger programme of Hivos and its partners aiming at building a viable business case, creating open source seed systems alliances and lobbying for urgent access and innovation issues around farmers’ seed systems in marginal areas under environmental stress.