KOSMOS Energy, MEST partner to accelerate Ghanaian agri-tech startups

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Oil and gas firm KOSMOS Energy has partnered the Accra-based Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) to launch a corporate social investment programme that will assist entrepreneurs working in high impact sectors with funding and support.

Kosmos Energy has launched the Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC), which will operate out of the MEST incubator facility and looks to apply commercial solutions to social and economic challenges in Ghana by using a market-based approach that facilitates private sector enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Each year, the KIC will choose a focus sector, with the first 12 months of the programme targeting agriculture, where it aims to nurture the development of market-based solutions that address various development challenges across the sector’s value chain.

The centre will adopt a three-part approach to assisting local tech startups, fostering partnerships to allow entrepreneurs and larger companies to collaborate to tackle challenges. It will also provide incubation to promising startup companies, while selected startups will receive funding and technical assistance to scale their products.

Joe Mensah, vice president and Ghana country manager at Kosmos Energy, said the KIC reflected the “contrarian thinking and entrepreneurial spirit” that had helped his company grow, but this time Kosmos would be the angel investor supporting small startups.

“In the process, we hope to play a role in solving some of Ghana’s most pressing developmental challenges. The programme aims to increase the interest of the youth in agriculture, which so far has been regarded as a dull and unrewarding activity despite the huge potential for economic growth that it offers and the crucial importance to the national economy,” he said.

“While our core competency is technology, we are not tied to a particular industry or even geography, as shown by the current spread of our companies. We are, however, very excited to specifically include agriculture as part of our focus, given that it presents an immediately relatable application of technology which is relevant in our part of the world,” said Juliana Taylor, head of operations and strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa at MEST.

She said Africa is often characterised as the ‘next frontier’ and an opportunity for growth, which in turn raises questions over sustainability and food security.

“Sadly, as we envision this growth and its related requirements, agriculture – a key part of the conversation – is often excluded and de-prioritised, especially in instances when employment and technology are part of the conversation,” Taylor said.

“Through this partnership, we hope to actively work towards dispelling this notion by identifying some of the very real ways in which there is overlap and driving towards workable solutions.”

Startups and entrepreneurs with products or solutions addressing challenges in the agricultural sector are encouraged to share their ideas with the KIC here.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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