Two months after its successful launch, the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC), which is powered by the generosity of Kosmos Energy, is pleased to report that progress has been made in its ambitious program to address challenges in the agriculture sector.
In April, the KIC launched AgriTech Challenge 2016, a formal competition that invites young entrepreneurs to use innovation to develop commercial solutions to challenges within agriculture. After nurturing their ideas through research and collaboration, and pitching them to a panel of expert judges, winners of the competition will receive seed funding and technical assistance from the KIC, as well as mentorship from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses.
More than 100 young entrepreneurs from all over Ghana entered the competition, which began with the inaugural AgriTech Exchange, an interactive and informative brainstorming session in which experts in agriculture, business, and technology gathered to define the most pressing challenges facing Ghana’s agriculture sector. In a highly competitive selection process that followed the event, the young entrepreneurs pitched preliminary ideas to a panel of judges drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture, academia, and private sector enterprises. Just 44 entrepreneurs were selected to move forward to the next stage of the competition.
In May, the 44 young entrepreneurs – known in the program as “AgriTechies” – attended a series of lunch-and-learn programs aimed at deepening their understanding of the agricultural sector, studying the challenges identified in the AgriTech Exchange, and preparing for a 13-day field research tour. The KIC-sponsored research tour took participants to five regions in Ghana – Greater Accra, Volta, Eastern, Ashanti, and Brong-Ahafo – to interact directly with farmers and agribusinesses to test their assumptions and collect valuable input.
The young entrepreneurs, comprised of 11 teams, are now refining their ideas and formulating business proposals which will be pitched to the panel of expert judges later this month. Entrepreneurs who survive this latest pitch round will continue working on their business plans in advance of a final pitch in August that will select the winners.
“We are thrilled with the progress that has been made in encouraging young entrepreneurs to tackle challenges in agriculture. The program has attracted very talented individuals who have a passion for innovation and who see real business opportunity in agriculture. They have put in an extraordinary amount of work and received a lot of support over the last several months. Everyone at the Kosmos Innovation Center is looking forward to the excitement of the next pitch round,” said Joe Mensah, Vice President and Country Manager, Kosmos Energy.
About The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST)
The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and the MEST Incubator program provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa.
Established in Ghana in 2008, MEST offers aspiring African entrepreneurs a fully sponsored twelve month, intensive full-time program. Sourced from top graduates in Ghana and Nigeria, 30 of these Entrepreneurs-In-Training (EITs) are selected each year and receive comprehensive training across the spectrum of skills required to build successful tech businesses, including computer programming, software development, product management, finance, marketing, sales and leadership best practices.
MEST is fully backed by The Meltwater Foundation, a not for profit arm of the Meltwater Group, a global leader for online news and social media analytics.