Kosmos Energy announced last month the enrollment of 100 new entrepreneurs into the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) 2017 AgriTech Challenge, a formal competition that invites young entrepreneurs to use innovation and information communication technology (ICT) to develop commercial solutions to challenges within agriculture.

This is the second season of the AgriTech Challenge run under Kosmos Innovation Center which was launched in March 2016.

More than 400 young people applied to be part of the 2017 Challenge, out of which two hundred were shortlisted and interviewed, and a final one hundred entrepreneurs selected. It is expected that 20 to 25 businesses (groups) will be formed to compete for the ultimate prize, which includes seed funding and technical assistance.

For the next seven months, the new entrepreneurs will participate in a range of activities, including capacity building sessions and market research tours, before pitching and defending their business plans in front of a panel of judges comprised of senior experts from diverse sectors, such as agribusiness, ICT, academia and finance.

The activities have been chosen to deepen their understanding of the agriculture value chain. The 100 entrepreneurs – known as “AgriTechies” – will embark on an extensive market research tour of the Northern, Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Greater Accra regions to learn about agriculture and agribusiness operations, interact directly with farmers and agribusinesses, collect valuable inputs, and also validate business models they will later develop.

Another component is the AgriTech Exchange, which is a roundtable forum that brings together experts from agriculture, agribusiness, finance, ICT, and academia to identify the key challenges in the agriculture value chain. The young entrepreneurs will attempt to find solutions to sector challenges identified at the AgriTech Exchange.

At the end of the seven-month program, two businesses are expected to win the competition. They will receive US$50,000 each in 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.

Kosmos Energy’s vice president and country manager, Joe Mensah, said Ghana’s young people are rising to the challenge issued by the Kosmos Innovation Center. Interest and participation in the AgriTech Challenge has increased significantly year-over-year.

“The interest and enthusiasm shown by these young entrepreneurs promise to bring fresh thinking to agriculture and agribusiness. The two winning start-ups from last year’s competition – Tro Tro Tractor Limited and Ghalani Limited – are using their time in incubation well and making great strides in providing practical, real-world solutions that will help Ghana’s farmers. We are pleased to be a partner in building Ghana’s future,” he said.

About Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC)

The Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) is Kosmos Energy’s flagship social investment program in Ghana. It uses innovation to

create and apply commercial solutions to development challenges, starting with agriculture.