The Mastercard Foundation and the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC), have entered into a multi-year partnership to train the next generation of young leaders, agriculture entrepreneurs to ensure an improved and sustainable sector in the country.
The project dubbed Initiative for Youth in Agricultural Transformation (IYAT) the programme would scale KIC’s proven transformational model and initiatives such as the AgriTech Challenge, Business Booster, and Business Incubation across the 16 regions of the country.
The partnership will enable young entrepreneurs in the agriculture and agriculture-adjacent sectors to benefit from capacity building, access to finance, and business scaling opportunities – creating work opportunities for 163,000 young Ghanaians especially women.
Under the programme, a four-year, $16 million programme is aligned to the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works’ vision and work in Ghana, which seeks to deepen efforts in the agriculture and agriculture-adjacent sectors using a value chain market systems development approach, to create access to dignified and fulfilling work opportunities within the sector for young Ghanaians.
The programme also aligns with KIC’s goal of nurturing the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses, to build a healthier and more diverse economy that is fueled by local talent and innovation.
Speaking at the launch, the Executive Director of KIC, Mr Benjamin Gyan-Kesse, said the partnership with the Mastercard Foundation is a testament to KIC’s tangible achievements since its inception.
“The partnership is a nod to the transformation we are bringing to Ghana’s agriculture sector and as an organization, we are driven by the determination to be the power behind the innovations that will shape Ghana’s agriculture sector,” he said.
The focus of KIC he said is to back ideas that transform communities and we want to impact the lives of all the individuals associated with its programmes, saying “We are proud to have the Mastercard Foundation supporting our vision and helping us make a difference across the country.”
KIC he said has led bold initiatives within the country’s agriculture sector and supported young entrepreneurs driving innovative business models within the sector.
Mr Gyan-Kesse said more than 100,000 farmers have been impacted by Agri-Tech and agribusinesses supported under KIC, and that now KIC has evolved into an Independent non-profit organization, able to partner with other organizations and foundations to support its work.
The Board Chairman of KIC, Mr Joe Mensah at the ceremony said they saw the potential in KIC when Kosmos Energy introduced it in 2016, saying “We knew it had the potential to make a real difference by bringing fresh talent, thinking, and energy to Ghana’s agriculture sector.
“Our achievements over the years speak for themselves as 600 young leaders trained in business and entrepreneurship; 42 promising small businesses discovered or supported; 360 jobs created; and nearly 100,000 farmers supported by our start-ups and small businesses,” he said.
Mr Joe Mensah, who is also the Kosmos Energy’s Senior Vice-President and Head of the Ghana Business Unit, said KIC generates buzz in the agriculture sector, making it a more attractive career path for young people with ambition and drive.
“The nationwide expansion of the KIC’s proven and successful model will give young people closest to the problems the opportunity to drive solutions that unlock growth barriers in key agriculture value chains.” he said.
The Ghana Country Head, Mastercard Foundation, Ms Rosy Fynn, commented “This multi-year partnership with the KIC reflects our optimism about Ghana’s future and is aligned to our country’s strategy of investing in the agriculture and agriculture-adjacent sectors to unlock work opportunities for young Ghanaian women and men.
The partnership she said would push for system level changes that positions Ghana as a continental demonstration of agricultural innovations that are suited to the African context. “We are pleased to collaborate with the KIC, an experienced partner, to train and support the next generation of young entrepreneurs in the country.”
4,700 young youth
The KIC’s programmes, which will be scaled through the IYAT programme include a 7-month annual training program aimed at building the entrepreneurial mindset of students and young graduates under the AgriTech Challenge Classic.
“For the next four years, the expanded version of the AgriTech Challenge is expected to train about 4,700 young people across the country through relationships with regional academic partners, such as universities and technical schools,” he said.
There is also AgriTech Challenge Pro – a 5-month acceleration program aimed at equipping existing early-stage teams or AgriTech start-ups with the right tools, funding, and support to bring their business ideas or products to market and prepare them to scale.
In the area of incubation – the KIC Incubation is a multi-year business incubation program aimed at preparing businesses for growth, scale, and investor readiness, – a 5-month business booster program that spurs the growth of existing Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in agriculture and agriculture adjacent sectors in Ghana that have demonstrated potential and are ready to scale.
KIC & Mastercard Foundation
The Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) in Ghana is a non-profit organization that invests in young entrepreneurs and small businesses. We empower entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into viable, self-sustaining businesses. The Center works alongside promising small businesses to help them scale and reach their full potential.
The KIC is investing in the future by supporting innovators turning today’s problems into tomorrow’s opportunities. We are on a mission to scale innovations that apply commercial solutions to key development challenges starting with agriculture – the largest sector in Ghana and Africa’s economy.
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work.
It is one of the largest private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.
[4:56 PM, 3/24/2022] Lawrence Segbefia: Kk