Sustainable Agro, an agribusiness that focuses on crop farming, mixed farming and livestock production, has won the second edition of the Growing Business Together (GBT) programme, a start-up accelerator designed for SMEs.
They were declared winners at the GBT Startup Investor Conference which came off at GIMPA recently. The conference was on the theme, “Are you ready for my money?”.
The company beat stiff competition from Gyenatua Later Micro-Credit, a micro loans company that focuses on students, and Trotro Tractor, an agricultural technology company that connects farmers with tractors and other agricultural machinery services like planters, combine harvesters.
Sustainable Agro walked away with 12 months of business advisory, fundraising and business coaching valued at GH¢50,000 with Gyenatua Later Micro-Credit walking away with 6 months of same valued at GH¢25,000 and Trotro Tractor benefits from same services for three months which is valued at GH¢12,500.
The Growing Business Together (GBT) programme is a start-up accelerator designed for SMEs, in collaboration with The Royal Netherlands Embassy Ghana, Truvalu Startups and MBC Africa.
Ronald Strikker, the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana noted that the embassy is supporting the GBT training programme for young entrepreneurs and startups because it considers entrepreneurship as very important for any economy, especially in Ghana.
“This programme is to achieve economic empowerment and help Ghana become an economic power and move beyond aid,” he said. He explained that being an entrepreneur means that one needs to have a good idea and dreams but then the entrepreneur needs to have the passion to drive all these through.
But besides having the talent, Mr. Strikker noted that entrepreneurs need discipline, determination and perseverance to take ideas to reality, which is not easy always.
“You have to be very disciplined and tough in difficult times. That is what you see with a lot of entrepreneurs who have a lot of ideas but you need discipline to make those ideas a reality. Besides, your great idea, thorough business plan and your talent, you need discipline and perseverance.
There is a lot of talent in Ghana because we feel that and we have a lot of young people approach us. But there is a large informal sector in this country and so it is necessary to become your own entrepreneur because jobs are so scares.”
He noted that through the GBT and other Netherlands pioneered projects, the Dutch are cementing the relationship between Ghana and the Netherlands. “We are also trying to promote Ghanaians living in Netherlands to do something here in Ghana. Most of them want to but they need more information.”
Sustainable Agro’s first and main business unit is rice production, processing and packaging. The company produces and processes two aromatic varieties; Exbaiker & Jasmine 85. These two varieties are packaged in sacks under the brand name DUQ (first grade), Akoma (second grade) and Benji (third grades). Grade four is currently under product development.
The company’s utmost strategy is to carefully nurture strategic alliances and partnerships with investors, persons or groups with requisite skills, natural and capital resources for a mutually beneficial advantage that translates into fostering profits, strong value chains and networks globally.
The company has the middle and upper income earners in Ghana as its main target market for DUQ rice. “DUQ” is also targeted at health conscious Ghanaians. The company in the near future is looking at introducing two new products; “Salimasa” (brown rice and parboiled rice) for health conscious customers and “Akoma” to middle lower and lower income earning customers.
At Gyenatua Later Micro-Credit, these micro loans are paid back between third day of borrowing to fourth week of borrowing or less depending on the customer’s preference. The micro loans ranges from GH¢10 to GH¢500.
Gyenatua is currently the only money lending company targeting students. It has been in operation for three years and has served over 700 students and has made remarkable profits and impact. It currently operates on the University of Ghana campus and looks forward to serving other tertiary students with this much needed service.
In the next three years, Gyenatua looks forward to expanding this service to other schools in Greater Accra and beyond. The company looks forward to making use of technology, to make it easier for clients to access loans.
Kamal Yakub, Chief Executive Officer at Trotro Tractor, is currently the CEO of Trotro Tractor Ltd, an agricultural technology company that connects farmers with tractors and other agricultural machinery services like planters, combine harvesters etc. (www.trotrotractor.com).
Trotro Tractor Limited was one of the KIC challenge winners 2016. They are the Uber for Tractors in Ghana. They rely on mobile money, feature phones and GPS to connect farmers with tractor and agricultural machinery services.