Today's top entrepreneurship and business stories (11 January)

Finalists for AFIF Entrepreneurship Awards announced, Fitbit acquires smartwatch startup Vector, and more


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Finalists for AFIF Entrepreneurship Awards announced
The finalists for the African Finance & Investment Forum (AFIF) Entrepreneurship Award 2017 were announced in Brussels on the 9th of January 2017. The award focuses on projects with big economic, social and ecological impact, and their potential growth and job creation regionally and nationally.

The final six African SMEs were taken out a selection of 51 projects from around the continent following a few rounds of selection. The jury has selected innovative projects from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

The winner will be announced during the Africa Finance & Investment Forum (AFIF) 2017 (http://APO.af/y28Bux), which will be held in Nairobi from 13-16 February.

Official Finalists for the AFIF Entrepreneurship Award 2017:

Aybar Engineering (Ethiopia) – The company has developed the "Aybar BBM", a technology that prevents excess water from suffocating crops and stores it for later use. There is no other similar technology in the market.
R n G Company limited (Kenya) – The company sells packaged Rhizo-fix (groundnut inoculum), a biofertilizer that ensures a more efficient groundnut production. It also collects the groundnuts from local farmers to produce affordable cooking oil.
EuroFresh Exotics (Kenya) – The company produces and exports fresh fruits and vegetables using innovative farming techniques. They also organise capacity building trainings for smallholder farmers.
First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics (Nigeria) – This company has developed the “Zenvus”, an intelligent solution to collect soil data using a system of electronic sensors. Its mission is to improve farming productivity.
Kimolo Super rice (Tanzania) – The company is specialized in processing and marketing branded rice and sunflower oil. The project is environmentally friendly since smallholder farmers produce paddy using water run-off from nearby hills.
Eco Act (Tanzania) – The company was established to address the challenges of urban waste management, plastic pollution, deforestation and climate change. They recycle and transform post-consumer waste plastic into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber. (via ITNews Africa)

Fitbit acquires smartwatch startup Vector 
Vector, a European smartwatch brand with an e-ink LCD screen has been acquired for an undisclosed price by global wearable giant Fitbit. Founder and CTO Andrei Pitis confirmed to TechCrunch that the company was acquired for its software platform and design team. This does not, however, signal a move into the luxury smartwatch sector by Fitbit.

What is does confirm is that Fitbit is continuing its roll-up of talent associated with watches, wearables and fitness devices. In November, Fitbit acquired a pioneer in the smart watch space, Pebble, with all its engineering talent being sucked into Fitbit. The same fate now awaits Vector, which raised only a small amount of cash, but turned heads with its clever hardware and software integration and design smarts.

In a statement online the company says "we will start building other new and amazing products, features and experiences, incorporating our unique technology and knowhow with Fitbit’s experience and global community." (via Techcrunch)

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