IFC, Fund invest $1.25m into Ghanaian firm to aid African farmers

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), have both invested $1.25 million of equity into Esoko, a Ghanaian technology firm, to assist African farmers increase their incomes.

According to a statement announcing the investment in Esoko, the company’s technology will give small holder African farmers and businesses timely crop information that can be shared via text messaging, enabling farmers to increase their incomes.

Explaining how the Esokos software works, the statement said it takes advantage of rapidly growing mobile-phone usage in Africa, adding, the technology allows farmers affordable and timely access to market information that can help them negotiate better prices and improve the timing of getting their crops to market.

The Esokos software, the statement continued, allows different parties in the agricultural value chain to exchange real-time market information, where farmers receive current demands, prices of crops, and the location of seeds and fertilizers directly on their mobile phones.

According to the statement, Esoko’s technology is already being used in nine African countries and expanding quickly and that, with the technology, businesses can track how their products are used and market themselves to new customers, while associations and governments can share critical information with thousands, using a simple bulk-text messaging feature.

“Our platform was developed by African software engineers here in Accra, Ghana, and has been a totally local, market-driven initiative,” said Esoko CEO Mark Davies. He continued that “IFC and SEDF have a strong track record of helping local companies get the funding and advice needed to expand into new regions and markets,” saying, “With their support we hope to export this African technology all around the world.”

Commenting on the technology, Stewart J. Paperin, president of the Soros Economic Development Fund, which is a non-profit investment fund that works to alleviate poverty and community deterioration, said SEDF’s investment helps break the information barrier for African farmers, so they can generate more income.

He opined that a more transparent marketplace enables farmers to negotiate fair prices, improve their timing on getting goods to market, and move between markets to sell products.

Also making a statement on IFC’s investment, Kent Lupberger, Global Head of IFC Techonology, Media, and Telecom, said “African technology firms are innovating and expanding beyond their domestic markets and we see a great opportunity to help ensure they have the proper financing for long-term growth.”

He added that Esoko is giving people practical tools to improve their lives and lift themselves out of poverty.

In the meantime, Esoko is also publishing the first commodities indices in Africa, a powerful tool in helping ensure that farmers are fairly compensated for their crops, as formal commodity exchanges are very rare on the continent. The company is initially publishing two indices that provide prices for 12 agriculture commodities in seven markets in Ghana.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

1 Comment
  1. Felix Garr says

    Am a farmer who is looking for assistant from your organization to be able to own a tractor and a power tiller to be able to produce in large quantity to meet the demand of food supply in my country,the continent and the world at large. i will be looking forward to hear from you. Thank you.

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