Kosmos Energy announced today the winners of the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) 2018 AgriTech Challenge, a business competition where young entrepreneurs use innovation and information communication technology (ICT) to develop commercial solutions to challenges within the agriculture sector.
More than 400 young people applied to be part of the 2018 AgriTech Challenge, out of which 200 were shortlisted and interviewed, and a final 120 entrepreneurs were selected to compete. The eight finalists have had nine months of customized skills and capacity building, individual coaching and expert mentorship to help develop their innovative ideas. A series of market research tours also gave participants first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by the agricultural sector in Ghana today. The teams made it through three elimination rounds where they had to pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges.
Each year, Kosmos Energy awards customized prize packages to two winning businesses – this includes seed funding worth USD 100,000 and a year of incubation to help ensure the businesses’ success. The winners of the 2018 AgriTech Challenge, who will continue to receive support and investment from Kosmos Energy, are:
- TechShelta: Provides technological support to greenhouse farmers in Ghana and beyond to help them optimize production. Their system enables farmers to control humidity in their greenhouses, and record and monitor their operations in real time.
- Profish: Provides “Lojaanor” (‘Fish Market’ in the Ga language), a platform which facilitates the sale and delivery of fish to bulk purchasers, such as restaurants and fishmongers. Their technology also improves on existing storage and delivery systems.
For the past three months, all finalists have had additional technical training and in-kind support to further refine both their business plans and to develop and test working prototypes of their products. This additional support from Kosmos Energy to all finalists has enabled the teams to deliver a proof of concept and made the teams investment ready.
This year the KIC programme has also attracted additional investment from two of its programme partners, DAI (USD 20,000) and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (USD 100,000), to fund an additional three business teams. This brings the number of business teams receiving start-up and development investment funding at the end of the 2018 AgriTech Challenge to a total of five.
The three other finalists to receive support and funding are:
- Soil Solutions: Provides a “do it yourself” test kit for commercial and smallholder farmers. This will help farmers to understand the exact nutrient makeup of their soil and apply the appropriate nutrient replantation method.
- Kwidex: Provides a crowdfunding platform to help small holder farmers access credit.
- Growth Factor: Provides “nvoicia”, a platform that enables agribusinesses to get their invoices paid in a timely fashion to improve their cash flow.
Kosmos Energy Vice President and Country Manager Joe Mensah said:
“We are delighted to be driving innovation in Ghana’s agricultural sector. The size of the opportunity to transform the sector is demonstrated by the ongoing popularity of the AgriTech Challenge with young people and by the scale of support the programme continues to receive from government representatives, business partners and the local community.
“At Kosmos, we aim to be a long-term partner, deeply engaged in helping our host countries create a brighter future beyond oil and gas. I look forward to seeing how all the funded companies bring growth and change to the agricultural industry, which is of such vital importance to this country’s economy.”
Ashwin Ravichandran, Director of Portfolio and Ghana, said “Over the past two years, MEST has incubated six innovative AgriTech companies through the Kosmos Innovation Center. These companies have gone on to win DEMO Africa, Pitch AgriHack, and more. We believe it is the training they receive from Kosmos Energy while participating in the KIC AgriTech Challenge and then the support they receive during incubation at MEST that truly makes them stand apart. We cannot wait to welcome the next generation of KIC companies into our Accra incubator and further the partnership between MEST and Kosmos Energy.”
Anand Varghese, Manager, Center for Digital Acceleration, DAI: “DAI have been with the KIC programme since its inception in 2016 and have had the opportunity to work with every team that has gone through the programme. Every year, the quality of this programme and of the business solutions being pitched by KIC entrepreneurs gets better and better. We see youth-driven entrepreneurship as a key driver of new ideas and energy in Ghana’s agricultural sector. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and we look forward to continuing to mentor and nurture KIC’s promising AgriTech startups with both funding and technical support.”
Applications to the 2019 KIC AgriTech Challenge closes on 30th November 2018. All interested young people and future entrepreneurs are encouraged to find out more and apply through the Kosmos Innovation Center website (www.kosmosinnovationcenter.com).
Other companies or partners that want to be involved in supporting the work of the KIC are also encouraged to make contact.
Notes to editors
About how the winning teams were selected
The panel of judges – comprised of representatives from financial institutions, academia, agribusiness, investment companies, and development agencies – evaluated the teams’ final pitch based on:
- The clarity of the problem and solution statement;
- The types of technology and business model deployed;
- The viability and scalability of business concept;
- Their general presentation skills; and
- The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and proof of concept.
The MVP evaluation was the most critical criteria as the businesses were required to prove they had identified an appropriate target market with an appetite for their product, and they would be able to generate a return on investment.