On May 27, I had the opportunity travel to Washington, D.C. and participate in a panel hosted by the Young African Professionals - DC group. The event was focused on highlighting new ventures and opportunities on the continent.

I shared the stage with Hello Tractor’s founder Jehiel Oliver and COO Martha Haile. Hello Tractor is an ag-tech company that provides two wheel “Smart Tractors” to small scale farmers via SMS--in a sense, an Uber for tractors. 

Founded in 2014, the company works to increase food and income security to rural farmers in west Africa. They use technology to track the usage of the tractor via GPS, perform data analytics on location, plant size, seasons of planting and exact location. Additionally, farmers use SMS messaging and mobile money to request, schedule and prepay for the tractors. Not only is it an innovative company solving one of the continent's largest problems, it is also a prime example of U.S.-Africa private sector collaboration. 

More Americans and African diaspora/returnees such as Jehiel and Martha are looking to do business in Africa. ABF’s vision is to bridge the gap and connect passionate American professionals to top tier African led business operating in the continent. The hope is that Fellows will become advocates for U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and collaboration. Who knows, perhaps the next Hello Tractor will be created by one of our Fellows.

Many thanks to the Young African Professionals - DC Group for hosting our two organizations!

Adedana Ashebir is the African Leadership Network's Africa Business Fellowship Program Director. 

Photo courtesy of the Hello Tractor website.