New businesses seek to address issues with pest control, soil quality and to provide Ghanaian farmers with better access to finance and information, and more.
Eight business teams have been selected to proceed to the final round of the Kosmos Innovation Center AgriTech Challenge programme. The AgriTech Challenge is an annual competition that encourages young entrepreneurs to take a fresh look at the agriculture value chain and to identify new areas of business opportunity.
Out of 14 teams that made it to the second pitch and elimination event on the 28th June 2018, just eight promising businesses were selected to continue. An expert panel of judges called the Ideation Team assessed the business viability of each idea presented on the day. The teams found to have the most scalable, practical and innovative business concepts were:
- Farm Cure, resolves challenges with pest control
- Soil Solution, resolves challenges with soil quality
- Growth Factor, provides access to finance information
- Tech Shelta, provides farm management services
- Lojaanor, provides market linkages
- Alpha (rotate), provides access to skilled labour and information
- AgroSol, provides agro-processing and market linkages
- Quidex, provides access to finance information.
The surviving teams will now have three months, from July to September, to develop their business concepts further and develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before the final pitch. The objective of this is to ensure that the entrepreneurs have viable prototypes of their products ready so that they can be tested out by potential future users, customers and investors. This element was added to the programme structure in 2017 and has proved to be very useful, giving teams the opportunity to really validate their products before the final pitch. The Kosmos Innovation Center intends to continue with this measure in future AgriTech Challenge programmes. Teams are also required to build a solid marketing and scalability plan prior to the final pitch, drawing on what they have learned from their capability and skills training sessions.
Some Ghanaian and international companies and institutions were invited to attend the pitch event in June – including Puma Energy, OCP Africa, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, RMG-Ghana, KOICA-Ghana, YARA and the Netherlands Embassy.
Joe Mensah, VP and country manager for Ghana said: “We encourage corporate Ghana and other institutions to join hands with Kosmos Energy to support youth-led businesses to grow and develop, just like Premium Bank of Ghana and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) did in 2017. Together we can drive sustainable innovation in the agriculture sector and contribute to tackling Ghana’s youth unemployment challenge. By empowering one entrepreneur at a time, we are investing in a brighter future.”
Fourteen business teams, out of an original 23, participating in the 2018 KIC AgriTech Challenge have qualified to move ahead to the second round of the competition. The teams presented their innovative business concepts to a panel of judges at the first pitch event in May at the ISSER Conference Hall, University of Ghana, Legon and are now preparing for the second round pitch on 28th June. Only the most promising business teams will move forward to the third and final round of the competition.
This year, the teams’ business concepts span 11 thematic areas: Farm management, Access to Information, Market Linkages; Transportation and Storage, Processing; Produce Quality and Standards; Access to Skilled Labour; Access to Technology, Access to Finance; Soil Quality and Pest Control. Challenges in each of these areas were identified during the teams’ market research activities, that saw them interact with farmers and processors. The teams also met with other players along the agricultural value chain at a two-day AgriTech Exchange workshop. In addition, the teams undertook four months of expert capacity building and a skills training programme. This helped them to shape and create their own impactful business solutions to the challenges they identified.
As part of the second pitch event, on the 28th of June, the KIC Ideation team — a panel of expert judges drawn from different development and business sectors — will review and interrogate the business concepts being developed by the entrepreneurs; assessing their viability and scalability. They will review what work has been done to improve the business concepts since the first round of critical feedback was given.
Teams will continue to receive mentorship and advice as they prepare for next stage of the competition. The 14 competing business teams will receive support through one-on-one meetings with AgriTech Consultants and further capacity building and skills training. For example, training in Team Dynamics, Marketing and Planning, Digital Marketing and Marketing Communications will be administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a key KIC partner, and other individual experts.
Joe Mensah, VP and Country manager for Ghana said: “We appreciate the enormity and dynamic nature of the challenges in agriculture. We are committed to using a creative mindset approach in encouraging young graduates to see the entrepreneurial opportunities in solving the sector’s problems. Kosmos is helping to create a positive impact on agriculture in Ghana by finding and nurturing home-grown commercial and sustainable solutions to these difficult problems.”
Nine Ghanaian agribusinesses selected to participate in the inaugural Kosmos Innovation Center Business Booster program have successfully completed six months of training designed to help them grow their businesses.
The training program culminated in the second and final five-day bootcamp which focused on preparing the nine businesses to meet with potential investors. Twelve investors whose intention is to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return participated in the investor day.
The agribusinesses who participated in the six-month program included:
- Meclink, produces high-quality vegetables for the domestic market
- MoringaConnect, processes moringa leaves into nutritious
- Moringa King, beverages a fruit processing company
- Meannan Foods, processes and packages hygienic Ghanaian foods for the local market
- Solution Oasis, manufactures premium natural skincare products
- Tilly Farms, produces pork and pork products
- Seidag, supplies beef products in Ghana
- Contrapac, extracts, refines and produces tertiary value-added products such foods, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products from natural, virgin tropical vegetables oils & fats
- GEES Fresh Point. a guinea fowl processing company
Prior to the second bootcamp, the agribusinesses participated in a variety of capacity building workshops covering topics as varied as business strategy, record keeping, effective presentation, corporate governance, investor mapping and engagement, and networking. The agribusinesses were also paired with carefully selected mentors and seasoned entrepreneurs who coached them for the duration of the program.
George Sarpong, Kosmos Energy’s director of corporate affairs, who leads the Kosmos Innovation Center said: “We know that Kosmos Energy’s future success is fully connected to Ghana’s success. As a result, we want to help Ghana create a healthy, diverse and thriving economy. The Kosmos Innovation Center is our way of investing in the country’s future beyond oil and gas. We would like to see these agribusinesses expand and create more jobs for society.”
Nineteen start-ups participating in the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) AgriTech Challenge presented their business plans to a panel of experts for the first at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) conference centre in the University of Ghana, Legon, last Thursday. The first pitch is an important milestone in the programme as it validates the viability of the business ideas put forward.
Over the past four months, seventy-five entrepreneurs have been working on exciting business ideas that seek to solve some of the key challenges in the agricultural value chain. The young entrepreneurs pitched a range of business ideas, with solutions focusing on a mix of agric-financing; smart storage systems; agronomy and operational support; livestock management and health monitoring systems; input supplies and acquisitions; and aquaculture. Teams were evaluated on the clarity of their challenge proposition and their proposed solution. Successful teams will now advance to the second pitch in June.
The panel of judges is made up of experts drawn from academia, finance and banking, ICT, the Ministry of Agriculture, and other relevant fields in the agribusiness value chain. Members of the panel are also mentors in the programme, coaching and supporting the young entrepreneurs as they develop and refine their business plans.
Joe Mensah, Kosmos Energy’s Vice President, Country Manager, and Chairman of the Kosmos Innovation Center said: “The Kosmos Innovation Center is our way of investing in Ghana’s future beyond oil and gas. We’re excited to see these ambitious start-ups continue to their journey, developing enterprising business ideas that can change the face of agriculture in Ghana for the better..”
This is the third KIC AgriTech Challenge and it grows in popularity every year. Between 2016 and 2018, applications have gone up by 476 percent.