KOSMOS Energy has awarded two agricultural value chain solutions providers with US$100,000 seed money, in addition to a 12-month entrepreneurial training, to enable them to firm up their business plans.
The grant recipients, AgroInnova and Qualitrace, were the ultimate winners of the nine-month-long reality contest, known as the Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC) AgriTech Challenge. It challenges young graduates from different backgrounds to apply information and communications technology (ICT) to solve some of the challenges facing the country’s agricultural sector.
Out of over 400 applications received for the contest, only 200 could be shortlisted out of which 106 were selected and grouped in 25 business teams to find commercial solutions for the agricultural value chain.
After nine months of lectures, field visits, coaching and training in ICT applications, six business teams made it to the final level, out of which two became the ultimate winners.
However, Kosmos Vice- President and Country Director, Mr Joe Mensah, who announced the outcome, said: “The second AgriTech Challenge succeeded beyond expectations, with all six finalist business teams receiving funding or other support from the KIC and its partners.”
He contended that the quality of the teams, their entrepreneurial spirit, and the potential of their business ideas were testament to the work everyone at the Kosmos Innovation Centre had done in its short history. The next phase of the KIC AgriTech Challenge, which is a social investment programme of the oil and gas producer, would focus still on agriculture, but with a new twist of finding existing businesses in the sector and helping them to scale up, a model KIC refers to as “acceleration programme”.
AgroInnova and Qualitrace will benefit from a 12-month incubation period at the Meltwater School of Technology (MEST) where they will learn how to turn their ideas into profitable businesses.
However, KIC partners, MEST and Premium Bank have decided to sponsor one business team each to the incubation at MEST.
They are Unlimited and Complete Farmer. Another finalist, Rent-a-farm, which provides an agricultural land rental marketplace for renters who want to access arable land, will partner CompleteFarmer to complement the company’s agribusiness solutions services.
Agroseal, which is a logistics and transportation service company providing a platform, which connects aggregators of fruits and vegetables to large scale farmers for timely truck service, is partnering with AgroCenta, which uses an online platform that connects smallholder farmers directly to a wider online market to sell their commodities.
AgroCenta found success when they participated in KIC’s market research, skills training and capacity-building programme in the maiden edition of the challenge.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, speaking at the programme, commended Kosmos Energy for the innovative programme, which was impacting on the agricultural sector positively.
“It is also gratifying to note that Kosmos Energy has taken this bold step outside its core business, as an oil and gas production company to create a programme, which is focused on turning around the fortunes of the agricultural sector in Ghana,” he said.
He said the intervention was timely and appropriate as the sector increasingly required an infusion of new life to attract our youth to find their space within the agricultural value chain.
According to the minister, the KIC programme complemented the government’s efforts under the “Planting for Food and Jobs” initiative, which was focused on ensuring food security for the country and to channel the millions of dollars spent on importing food, into additional investment and innovation to move agriculture to the next level in Ghana.