Category Archives: News

Entrepreneurs competing the Mauritania Innovation Challenge take part in the first elimination event

Kosmos Energy announces that the first pitch round of the Mauritania Innovation Challenge, a business competition where young entrepreneurs develop the skills needed to grow their own innovative businesses, took place at the Azalai Hotel in Nouakchott. Running over the course of two days – Friday 2 November and Saturday 3 November – teams pitched their ideas to a jury of experts and, if successful, entered the next stage of the competition.

Launched in August 2018 as a pilot program, the Mauritania Innovation Challenge provides young people with the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence needed to become future entrepreneurs. Participants are working on innovative projects in a variety of sectors including education, health, agriculture, e-commerce, delivery, waste management and security. The final competition winners will be announced in February 2019. The prize package includes seed funding, incubation support and further coaching – all designed to give them the skills and tools needed to successfully and sustainably launch their own businesses.

After a competitive application process, 35 entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in the Challenge. In the first part of the competition from August to October, participants have taken courses in entrepreneurship, received individualized coaching and have been encouraged to work on how they present and explain their businesses.

The entrepreneurs pitched to a jury who then determined which entrepreneurs were qualified to advance to the next round of the competition. The jury used detailed evaluation criteria to measure the quality of the presentation and the viability of the business idea. Only 15 teams have moved to the second stage of the challenge, where they will receive more entrepreneurship training, coaching and support to further refine their business ideas ahead of the final pitch event next year.

Ismail Sid Ahmed, Kosmos Energy Country Manager, said, “Young people make up a significant portion of the population and our program is designed to help equip them with the right training and support they need to become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are important drivers of economic growth. This is the first program Kosmos Energy has run in Mauritania and we’re already so impressed by the range of the business ideas being worked on and we look forward to seeing them develop.”

The Mauritania Innovation Challenge is modeled on the Kosmos Innovation Center in Ghana which has successfully trained 270 young, agri-tech entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship programs offered through the Kosmos Innovation Center are part of Kosmos Energy’s approach to social investment in the countries where it works, contributing to a country’s future sustainable development.

Winners and finalists of 2018 Kosmos Innovation Center AgriTech Challenge benefit from business support package worth over USD 500,000

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.

 

Kosmos Innovation Center wins prestigious 2018 P3 Impact Award

KIC has been recognized as a world leading public-private partnership for its work training 270 young entrepreneurs and helping to launch nine successful start-ups in Ghana.

The Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) has been named as the winner of the prestigious Concordia P3 Impact Award, which was announced at the Concordia Summit in New York City alongside the UN General Assembly. The awards highlight Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) with an exceptional record in working to improve communities and the world in the most impactful ways.

The KIC was celebrated for its work in empowering young people to contribute to sustainable economic development in their country, by offering intensive programs of support to help them turn their business ideas into reality. Successful businesses from the program in Ghana are now addressing some of the main challenges in the agricultural industry, creating both employment and new opportunities. Through a tailored mix of business training, mentorship, introductions to investors, seed funding, and other support, the KIC provides all the components required for newly established businesses to flourish.

By training young people to spot business opportunities that others miss, the KIC in Ghana has successfully catalyzed innovation and investment that benefits the local economy as a whole. Since its launch, the KIC has provided business training, leadership development and technical assistance to 270 young entrepreneurs to help launch their own businesses. Kosmos Energy has invested $200,000 in seed funding, and helped to raise $1 million worth of growth capital from external funders. These funds have helped launch nine agri-tech start-ups with the potential to positively impact thousands of farmers, including:

·         TroTro Tractor, a mobile tractor-share platform linking farmers in need with local tractor operators.

·         Agrolnnova, an enterprise management system for poultry farmers to record, monitor and track operations in real time.

Speaking about the award win, Lauren Berry, Director of Social Performance at Kosmos Energy said: “The Kosmos Innovation Center represents our steadfast commitment to investing in Ghana’s future.    The KIC is distinctive because it generates homegrown, commercial solutions to development challenges. The Ghanaian start-ups emerging from this program are tackling the most vexing issues facing agriculture today—from access to markets, to soil quality, to counterfeit chemicals.  We are inspired every day by these young entrepreneurs and can’t wait to see what business opportunities they’ll find next.”

George Sarpong, Director of External Affairs at Kosmos Energy Ghana, also said: “It is a great honor for the KIC to have the achievements of the entrepreneurs we have supported recognized, as well as the time and effort of our partners – DAI and MEST – by this international award.”

The P3 Impact Award was created by Concordia, a non-profit dedicated to fostering, elevating, and sustaining cross-sector partnerships for social impact; the University of Virginia Darden School of Business; and the U.S. State Department. Read the statement from the U.S. Department of State about the outcome of the Awards here

Kosmos Innovation Center sets October 11 for third and final pitch of the 2018 AgriTech Challenge

Applications now open for 2019 AgriTech Challenge

ACCRA – September 17, 2018

On October 11, the eight final teams in the Kosmos Innovation Center 2018 AgriTech Challenge will pitch to judges to be selected as overall winner. The winning team will receive $50,000 seed-funding to start and grow their business.

The AgriTech Challenge tasks young entrepreneurs with developing innovative, technology-led business ideas to solve problems in Ghana’s agricultural sector. The 2018 Challenge attracted 500 applicants, which was then whittled down to 100 initial programme participants.

The eight business teams currently preparing for the final pitch on October 11 are:

1. Growth Factor, facilitating quick payments to SMEs in the agricultural sector
2. Tech Shelta, providing farm management services
3. ProFish (Lojaanor), helping connect small agricultural businesses with potential buyers
4. Soil Solution, helping farmers improve their soil quality and increase production
5. Farm Cure, helping farmers resolve challenges with pest control
6. Alpha (Rotate), providing farmers with access to skilled labour
7. AgroSol, providing processing services within the agricultural sector
8. Kwidex, providing farmers access to financial information about their business.

Over the past nine months, participants have benefited from expert training – including 20 workshops, two group market research tours, and an individual team-led market research activity to help them refine their minimum viable product.

The teams have also been working on their proof of concept since July. This is required as part of the final pitch to demonstrate their product can be built and works for potential end-users.

Joe Mensah, Kosmos Energy VP and Country Manager for Ghana, said: “The KIC business teams have come far with working on their minimum viable product and building prototypes. By making this requirement of the final teams, we ensure that the businesses are more robust and attractive to potential investors.”

The Kosmos Innovation Center is now Looking for applications for the 2019 AgriTech Challenge cohort. Applications are open until 11 November 2018 via http://www.kosmosinnovationcenter.com.

 


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