Accra, Sept. 30, GNA
– TroTro Tractor Limited and Ghalani are the winners the Kosmos Innovation
Center (KIC) AgriTech Challenge, a formal competition open to young entrepreneurs
to use innovation to develop commercial solutions to address the challenges in
the agricultural sector.
After nurturing their ideas through research and collaboration, and pitching them to a panel of expert judges, the winners of the competition would receive US$50,000 in seed funding and technical assistance from the KIC.
Additionally, they would be mentored by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses.
TroTro Tractor Ltd is developing a platform that uses mobile phones and GPS units to connect farmers to tractor operators within their vicinity, enabling them to request, schedule, and pre-pay tractor services.
The platform gives farmers greater access to mechanized farming equipment.
Ghalani is creating a farm management software that helps agricultural aggregators, who often have to manage relationships with thousands of small-holder farmers, to efficiently organise, manage and monitor these farmers to improve productivity and reduce risks.
TroTro Tractor and Ghalani were selected from an original field of more than 100 young entrepreneurs from all over Ghana.
The competition began in April with the inaugural AgriTech Exchange, an interactive and informative brainstorming session, in which experts in agriculture, business, and technology gathered to define the most pressing challenges facing Ghana’s agriculture sector.
In a highly competitive selection process that followed the event, the young entrepreneurs pitched preliminary ideas to a panel of judges drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture, academia, and private sector enterprises.
Forty-four entrepreneurs were selected to move forward to the second stage of the competition.
In May, the selected entrepreneurs – known in the programme as “AgriTechies” – attended a series of lunch-and-learn programmes, aimed at deepening their understanding of the agricultural sector, studying the challenges identified in the AgriTech Exchange, and preparing for a 13-day field research tour.
The KIC-sponsored research tour then took the participants to five regions – Greater Accra, Volta, Eastern, Ashanti, and Brong-Ahafo – to interact directly with farmers and agribusinesses to test their assumptions and collect valuable input.
They formed into 11 teams and continued to refine their ideas and formulate business proposals, which were pitched to the panel of expert judges in late June.
The entrepreneurs who survived this pitch round continued working on their business plans in advance of the final pitch in August that ultimately selected the winners.
Commenting on the success of the programme, Kosmos Energy’s Vice President and Country Manager, Joe Mensah, said: “We are on to something big. This program encourages smart young entrepreneurs to look at agriculture differently. “With the type of innovation fostered by the KIC, our young people can make it a more dynamic sector and attractive career path with plenty of opportunity.
“I am thrilled with the tremendous response that we have gotten from young people who want to be a part of this effort to transform Ghana. As we move on to the second competition in 2017, I would like to encourage other companies to join us as we invest in these promising young people and the businesses they are creating to improve agriculture in Ghana.”
Katie Sarro, the Managing Director of MEST said, “We're thrilled to be working with Kosmos Energy on the Kosmos Innovation Center and AgriTech incubator. This mutually beneficial partnership whereby each party brings their respective strengths to the table.
“We especially appreciate Kosmos' dedication in bringing the necessary expertise within the agriculture sector. That, combined with our expertise in building world-class tech companies, is an unstoppable combo that has already demonstrated a lot of promise
“We're proud at what we've accomplished thus far and we look forward to continuing to mentor and nurture these promising AgriTech startups through funding, incubation and technical support.”