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Prime Botics: The future of Cape Verdean Agriculture

· Social Impact Invest

For a while now I've been impressed by the development of the Cape Verdean tech & start-up scene. I was interested in hearing a few stories, and wanted to understand both the motivation and challenges. In this series of interviews I'm speaking to young (start-up) entrepreneurs in Cape Verde. Despite challenging circumstances they are able to discover solutions and bring these to the market. Products that can create a better society. This is part 2:

Company Name: Prime Botics

Interview with: Erico Pinheiro

Location: Porto Novo/Mindelo

Age: 31

Problem he's been solving: sowing and reforesting secluded and inaccessible areas

Fase: Pre-Seed

What is the story behind Prime Botics?

“As someone from Santo Antão, I have an agricultural background. My family has always worked in this sector. One day, I was talking to my uncle. We started talking about my grandfather. He was getting older, but still loved his job a lot. I started wondering how it would be if he could do a part of the job from the comfort of his own home.”

“One day I was walking by a professors office. I took a quick peak inside an saw he had a drone in the office. It grabbed my attention because I could see the drone wasn't bought, but self made. At that time, I wanted do have my own drone for years, so I was very impressed with it.”

“Later on, the same professor became my professor. It took me a while, but one day I had the courage to talk to him about my love for drones. He suggested we get to work to create one for me. That was the start of this journey.”

How is the project doing so far?

"I received funding in 2019, thanks to the Tony Elumelu foundation. Because of this funding I now own 5 drones, and a 3D printer. Two of the drones have been created with the 3D printer I own."

"Right now I'm working on a few important tests that I would like to finish up until the end of the year. Since I still have a full-time job, I don't always get to carry out the tests when I want. Planning everything right is very important in this fase so I can do my testing in certain areas of São Vicente and Santo Antão."

"In the next few years I really want to focus on getting the drones to work on sowing inaccessible and remote areas of Santo Antão. One of the problems I hope to solve is that of the lack of pasture for the animals.”

"Thanks to the technology I've designed, I can send out a drone to do a task by pressing a button. The only thing I need to do from there is monitor how the drone is doing the job. Instead of months, certain projects can now be finished in days or even hours."

Erico showing of the Prime Botics drones

How do you look at the current start-up ecosystem in Cape Verde?

“Of course things here are very different from what they are in the US. There, I had different options for financing my project from the university. But it's something I already knew. I knew I would have to do this on my own. We have so many young talented people here, but unfortunately not many options for them.”

“The thing is, we don't have a 'researchculture' in Cape Verde. We're much more focused on the short term. We buy now, we use now, that kind of thing. It would be great to see that change in the near future.”

Read part 1 of the series here:

Nha Bex: Giving people back their time