TechFarm

TechFarm

Barclayville, LiberiaBear, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Yes Liberia seeks to undertake technical innovation designed to elevate the agricultural experience of farmers in rural Liberia, West Africa. We intend to leverage our skills, knowledge and experience in developmental endeavors in the rural area with proven technologies (satellite, solar panels, etc.) to provide essential tools for poverty elimination for the target groups.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural farmers access to markets, technology and capital.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Build a roving transportation system for rural farmers along with free access to technology centers to foster market-essential communication and access to markets, capital and other resources. Additionally, consolidate the assets (produce, capital, etc.) of individual farmers to leverage their power to obtain industrial equipment and other resources to more readily move their farming from subsistence to commercial level.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The project is highly scalable but the initial goal will be to establish a regular route from farming points between the most rural locations to the larger markets in Liberia's capital and other large towns. Farmers will be contacted through their town/clan/paramount chiefs to schedule produce pickups, eliminating their need to navigate the treacherous (or sometimes nonexistent) road networks via expensive, inconsistent and potentially unsafe commercial vehicles. Farmers will be entitled to immediate compensation for their produce or will be given a credit to their designated account. The setup of solar-powered technology centers in areas lacking technical infrastructure (electrical power grids, telephone towers, etc.) enables the designated contact to maintain market essential communications between the farmers through their contact (town chief, town crier, etc.) and the free transportation service, as well as market locations and other resources. Free basic mobile phones and phone service will be provided to farmers or their representatives. In addition, technology centers will facilitate access to fax, email and internet resources initially through commercial satellite services and progressively via private VSAT stations to be owned by the technology center. Self-sustaining revenue will be generated by eventual large-scale wholesale of produce, which volumes should steadily increase as contributing components are optimized (e.g. rough-terrain transportation vehicles, industrial-scale farming equipment, storage and processing facilities, etc.).
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Given the underdeveloped road network in Liberia’s rural agricultural areas, lack of access to communications tools, and limited technological amenities (phone service, electricity, internet access, etc.), the sole means of subsistence farmers accessing available markets is through private commercial vehicles. This program is intended not only to broaden the access to markets for farmers, but also make the process as cost-effective as possible, while increasing the probability of elevating their farming from subsistence to commercial levels. No such solution is currently being implemented in the country.
Team

Founding Story

The innovator spent a year in Liberia during their legislative and general elections in 2011. Part of the work of the innovator's role as Gender Coordinator for the country's National Elections Commission included activities to encourage the full participation of both genders in the electoral process. The work took the innovator to almost all regions of the country, including some of the most rural areas (little or no road networks, no running water, no electricity, limited satellite phone service). What was striking is that while some areas seemed remote, the population in those areas, especially women, seemed readily available to participate in the growth and development of their regions, but was severely hindered by the limited technology and infrastructure. Riding through rough terrains and glancing down from the UN helicopter in some cases gave an awesome view of the rich terrains available for agriculture and other aspects of tapping into natural resources to alleviate poverty.
About You
Organization:
Yes Liberia/Kawah Systems
About You
First Name

Jebeh

Last Name

Kawah

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Yes Liberia/Kawah Systems

Organization Country

, DE, Bear, New Castle County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, GK, Barclayville

Age of Innovator

Over 34

Gender of Innovator

Female

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to financing, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Since this is a new concept for the target groups and areas, no impact is currently visible.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

-- Farmers' income levels raised a minimum of 50%.
-- Networked farmers in each of the 15 counties of the country lending to the leveraging of their collective powers to elevate farming from subsistence to commercial levels.
-- Incentives for local technology professionals to remain within and contribute to the development of their domains, rather than migrate to the capital city.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The main barrier to success for this project is the state of the road network in various rural areas of the country. Especially during the rainy season, some areas tend to be rendered completely inaccessible to anything but the toughest rough terrain vehicles. In a few cases, farms become accessible only via human transport. After the initial stages of the project, the goal is to bring visibility to the need for government- or donor-sponsored road development. Barring such prominence, the project will continue to work to leverage the collective profit of farmers for the purchase of requisite equipment and services to facilitate access.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Establishment of the first technology center in the pilot county

Task 2

Establishment of an agricultural cooperative for local farmers

Task 3

Establishment of the first farm-to-market transportation system in the pilot county

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Transition from commercially available transportation to privately-owned rough terrain vehicles

Task 2

Replicate the success of the pilot program in 2 additional counties

Task 3

Initiate publicity of the project to encourage government and/or donor support for rural infrastructural improvements

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

While not currently formally partnering with any external entities, here are some of those with whom we've partnered in the past:
-- DASA- University of Delaware
-- The Women’s Dept, Towson University
-- ASO, The College of William & Mary
-- ASA, Savanna State University

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

- Since the project is designed to be income-generating, it offers opportunities for investment.
- Human capital is one of the most important ingredients for the success of this project.
- Marketing & media exposure is key to popularizing the concept for local farmers & attracting investment & other support.
- The nature of the project allows for information gathering during. implementation