Agro Innova Wins Partnership with GIZ

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday February 21st 2018

“The core of our business is to maximize efficiency for the agricultural industry through the power of technology. The GIZ competition means that we are getting the chance to empower smallholder farmers to diversify their income and improve their livelihoods.” - Kelvin Ashie, Agro Innova CPO

MEST Company Agro Innova recently won a two-day mobile application development challenge organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The scope of the contest was to build on the success of the Farmer Business School Programme, which is one of the flagship projects of the Sustainable Smallholder AgriBusiness and Cocoa Food Link Programme (SSAB CFLP), mandated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development with the support of the European Union.

The Farmer Business School (FBS) training helps smallholder farmers acquire entrepreneurial and business skills that will help them efficiently manage their farms, diversify their income, and improve their livelihoods. The programme has trained over 154,000 smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana alone. As winners of the challenge, Agro Innova will now go on to partner with GiZ to create a mobile application for the Farmer Business School Program.

Agro Innova received funding from MEST and the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC), a foundation working to help Ghana build a brighter future by tackling some of the country’s key challenges, after they won the 2017 edition of the Kosmos Innovation Center AgriTech Challenge alongside QualiTrace. Each year, Kosmos Energy, in partnership with MEST, holds a formal competition that invites young entrepreneurs to use innovation and information communication technology to develop commercial solutions to challenges within the agricultural sector.

[caption id="attachment_6453" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The Agro Innova team at the Kosmos Innovation Center AgriTech Challenge.[/caption]

Agro Innova is an AgriTech company that focuses on using digital technologies to tackle problems in the agricultural value chain through a variety of software solutions. Their first solution is their product, Akokotakra, which is a poultry farm management solution that helps poultry farmers efficiently record, monitor, and track their farm operations in real time. The team is looking forward to designing their second product in partnership with GiZ for the Farmer Business School Programme.

GIZ held the contest over two days at Impact Hub Accra . Three teams were selected to participate in the contest: Agro Innova, Ghalani, and Vocoa. Ghalani, like Agro Innova, is a KIC funded company founded by two MEST grads that works out of the MEST Incubator Accra. Ghalani is a web and mobile farm management solution that enables farmers and agribusinesses to efficiently and accurately manage their farm records in order to increase productivity and reduce costs. Vocoa uses data to assist stakeholders in the cocoa industry in improving the lives of cocoa farmers.

During the first day of the contest, the three teams went through a deep dive and sessions with mentors and industry experts from the SSAB program and other partner organizations at Impact Hub Accra. The teams were provided with mentorship and guidance to build their business models and prototype their ideas.

On the second day, all three teams presented their ideas in front of a five judge panel and more than one hundred delegates of GIZ partner organizations from Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’ivoire, Togo, and Cameroon. The audience also had delegates from the European Union.

All three teams pitched their ideas in 7 minutes, followed by 8 minutes of questions and answers from the five judges representing GIZ and partners from other West African countries. The pitching sessions were intense, with all three teams putting up a great show of competence and depth of work in the resulting battle of business models.

Ultimately, the Agro Innova team came out victorious. When asked what this meant for Agro Innova, CPO Kelvin Ashie stated, “It’s a fantastic opportunity to spread awareness and to challenge ourselves in terms of getting a chance to work with more farmers and make a greater impact. It’s a new frontier. We applied to challenge ourselves and create something new and different.” The team will now be partnering with the GIZ SSA team and their partner organizations to execute and implement the project.

If you’re interested in learning more about other MEST KIC teams or participating in future Kosmos Innovation Competitions, check out this article!