Kosmos Innovation Centre 2018 AgriTech Challenge takes off

BY: Kobla Dotsey Aklorbortu
Mr. Kofi Opoku, Ayesha Bedwei — PwC, Mr Joe Mensah
Mr. Kofi Opoku, Ayesha Bedwei — PwC, Mr Joe Mensah

More than 120 young entrepreneurs have been selected for the 2018 edition of Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC) AgriTech Challenge, the flagship social investment programme of oil production company, Kosmos Energy.

More than 500 young people across the country applied to be part of the challenge, which builds the capacity of young entrepreneurs to use information and communications technology (ICT) to develop innovative commercial solutions to tackle challenges within the agricultural sector.
 
Selection process

At the ceremony to announce the selected persons for the third edition of the challenge, the Vice-President and Country Manager of Kosmos Energy, Mr Joe Mensah, said more than 200 applicants were shortlisted and interviewed before settling on the final 121.

“It is also expected that between 25 and 30 business groups will be formed to compete for the ultimate prize, which includes seed funding and technical assistance,” he explained.

He said compared to last year, the interest and participation in the AgriTech Challenge was better this year.

“This year is another opportunity for us to create new businesses driven by Ghana’s young people through the challenge created by the Kosmos Innovation Centre. We are pleased to be a partner in building Ghana’s future,” he stated

This year will also mark the introduction of the KIC fellowship/alumni programme to create a community of all past KIC participants and partners.

The objective, the country manager explained, was to create an ecosystem of change agents and thought leadership focused on agriculture and innovation.
 
Businesses driven by young people

The project will span the next seven months and will see the fledgling entrepreneurs through a range of activities, including capacity-building sessions and market research tours.

The participants, then grouped in teams to create and fine-tune business ideas, will pitch and defend their business plans before a panel of judges composed of experts from diverse sectors such as agribusiness,  ICT, academia and finance.
 
Features of competition

As in past challenges, the AgriTechies – as the participants are referred to in the competition – will embark on a series of market research tours in selected parts of the country to deepen their understanding of the agricultural value chain and agribusiness operations.

Another key component of the programme is the AgriTech Exchange, which is a round-table forum that brings together experts from agriculture, agribusiness, finance, ICT and academia to identify the key challenges in the agricultural value chain that will help the agritechies attempt to find solutions to the sector’s challenges identified at the AgriTech Exchange. The information from the forum will also come in handy for shaping up and fine-tuning their business models and plans.
 
Grand prize

Two businesses with the best business based on ICT and innovation model will receive $50,000 each in seed funding and technical assistance from the KIC, as well as mentorship from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), to build their ideas into viable businesses.
 
Background

The KIC facilitates the ability of young entrepreneurs, mostly start-ups created out of the challenge, to create and apply commercial solutions to development challenges in the country, starting with agriculture.

Kosmos is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company focused on frontier and emerging markets along the Atlantic Margin.

It has production and development projects offshore Ghana and Equatorial Guinea and large discoveries offshore Mauritania and Senegal. It also has exploration licences with significant hydrocarbon potential offshore Suriname, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco and Western Sahara.

The company’s business principles articulate its commitment to transparency, ethics, human rights, safety and the environment.