case study

Launching an African Agriculture Technology Competition


The Challenge

Heifer International planned to launch a new African agriculture technology competition aimed at identifying and supporting young African entrepreneurs who are using technology to reimagine farming and food production across the continent. The core communications objectives included promoting thought leadership and Heifer International’s expertise in the youth and agriculture space in Africa, while in parallel, developing a separate African-owned and -led brand that would begin to shift the perception of agriculture as a career of last resort to one that is exciting and profitable.  

Burness worked with Heifer International and other partners to develop a brand identity and core communication materials for the competition, including a new website and video, and launching the new competition via social and traditional media. 

Our Approach

Burness started with developing a name and brand identity, working alongside the Heifer International team and our partners at Nendo. We explored several African-inspired and tech- inspired concepts and names, ultimately settling on the AYuTe Africa Challenge.  

Alongside this process, we conducted research to understand what differentiated AYuTe from several other ag- tech competitions in Africa. From there, we developed a core set of messages and a narrative, which formed the basis for the website we wrote, designed and developed, as well as the 55-second anthem video we produced with our partners at Emic Films. 

Burness also developed a media strategy that focused on positioning Heifer International as a thought leader in the lead- up to the competition announcement. This included placing several opinion pieces, as well as promoting a new Heifer report on agriculture and technology. We also promoted the competition winners as feature stories in regional and international news media, and successfully pitched more broadly to African-, agriculture- and technology-focused media.

On the digital side, we developed a social media toolkit for winners and one for partners to ensure the announcement reached existing audiences and to build the new AYuTe Africa digital account followings on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We also developed a detailed digital advertising strategy–—executed by our partners at Nendo–—to reach new audiences and drive engagement online.

Results and Impact

Our promotion of Heifer International’s report resulted in more than 55 original news stories across pan-African outlets such as CGTN Africa, CNBC Africa, SABC Channel Africa, Science Africa, as well as key national outlets in several countries: Daily Nation (Kenya), Sud Quotidien (Senegal), Guardian (Tanzania), Daily Mail (Zambia), Daily Monitor (Uganda), Business Day (Nigeria), Business and Financial Times (Ghana), APA News (Rwanda), and many more. We also placed an op-ed regarding the report’s findings in seven African outlets, including African Arguments, Addis Fortune (Ethiopia), the Rwandan Dispatch, Standard (Kenya), and the Herald (Zimbabwe). 

Our promotion of the competition winners resulted in over 30 original stories for the AYuTe Africa Challenge, including an op-ed featured on the front page of the Africa Report website on the launch day, and pieces in Quartz Africa, Reuters, CNN, Tech Gist Africa, VentureBurn, Ventures Africa, Xinhua, and more. 

On the digital side, by the time our advertising campaigns ended, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google ads accounted for almost 100,000 visits to the AYuTe Africa Challenge website and brought in more than 20,000 new followers to the AYuTe Africa Challenge Facebook and Twitter channels.

Overall, the debut and launch of the Africa AYuTe Challenge was a success and helped position Heifer International as an important leader and funder of innovation solutions for African agriculture. 

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