The Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC) has enrolled 101 young graduates into this year’s edition of the agriculture business competition.
Dubbed the KIC AgriTech Challenge, the competition gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to start their own businesses in the agricultural value chain using innovative information and communications technology to find solutions to some of the challenges in the sector.
A total of 650 young graduates applied online to participate in the challenge, after which 101 were shortlisted to begin the 10-month challenge.
The participants started with an engagement with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to foster collaboration and understand some of the broad issues in the sector.
The Director of Corporate Affairs at Kosmos Energy Ghana, Mr George Sarpong, said previous competitions had given birth to 11 companies in the agricultural value-chain, adding that the company was excited that it was playing a crucial role in national development.
He acknowledged that the agricultural sector was the bedrock of Ghana’s economy, but said there were opportunities to improve efficiencies through technology.
Mr Sarpong explained that the contestants would be grouped into a minimum of three and a maximum of five to come out with innovative agricultural projects, out of which the best four would be selected and supported with funding and further training (incubation).
He stated: “What the company does is to take the contestants in the challenge through various training and capacity building and at the end of each challenge provide the overall best teams with seed funding and technical support.”
Mr Sarpong, who is also the leader of the Kosmos Innovation Centre, said the only responsibility of the winners of the challenge “is that they are responsible companies and that they are giving back to society.”
“We are creating these companies to demonstrate to the youth that they have talents and they can do something. We want the youth to learn from their colleagues and also aspire to do same,” he explained.
He stated that even though the core mandate of Kosmos was oil and gas exploration and production, it was focused on creating entrepreneurs in the agricultural value chain who would use technology to solve some of the teething agricultural challenges.
Mr Sarpong explained that the purpose of the meeting with the ministry was to afford the youth the opportunity to interact with the sectional directors and to get closer to the ministry “so that the various directorates within the ministry can see the kinds of companies we are creating.”
A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in Charge of Annual Crops, Dr Sagre Bambangi, took the contestants through the various innovative programmes the ministry was pursuing such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development, among others.
He said the ministry saw the KIC as a crucial partner in realising the government’s development agenda and was prepared to collaborate with the company in that regard.