Back to the Drawing Board

I have spent the last two months networking and looking for partners for my project. While these activities have been quite insightful, I’m now quite confused. First of all, while I though my project idea was quite innovative, I have recently come across a similar if not identical project that has been implemented in India. The project, which is known as Direct2Farm has been running under the management of CABI for the last 3 years. The good news however is that this project is making over 2 million dollars in profit annually which means my idea of running the project as a profit-making social enterprise isn’t so far fetched. Below is a PowerPoint presentation on the project.

Mobile Plus Chennai, Sharbendu Cabi

I was privileged to meet Sharbendu Banerjee one of the key masterminds of the Direct2Farm project.

After all the networking, I have realized that I need to go back to the drawing board and modify my project. Since there are other similar projects out there, I need to set my project apart from the rest. In addition, I have realized that my project will require the co-operation of multiple stake holders. Currently, this is what my stake holder list looks like:

  • Youth organizations to assist with the mobilization of the youth.
  • State and private agriculture extension officers will be engaged to provide agricultural training through videos and audio conferencing and answer questions from young farmers by SMS and phone calls.
  • Agriculture research organizations such as the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) will be engaged in the creation of a comprehensive database on best agricultural practices in Kenya. This database will ensure that the extension officers provide up to date information during training and consultation.
  • The Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) will be engaged to provide marketing support.
  • Buyers of agricultural produce will be engaged to provide market for the produce.
  • Manufacturers of fertilizers and other farm inputs will be given the opportunity to market their products to our farmers for a fee thereby making the project sustainable. Such advertisements will be subject to quality control by the research institutions and agriculture extension officers.
  • Telecommunication companies will be engaged so as to ensure that young farmers are able to access SMS and voice support services at a reasonable price.
  • Market Information Systems such as Mfarm will be engaged to provide real-time market price information to farmers.

It could take me 6 months to get into contact with the above named stakeholders leave alone enter into a partnership agreement with them. Even then, I need to plan how and when I’m going to get into contact with them and also decide who among the stakeholders I can do without, at least for the first few months.


Went to my First Networking Event

On Tuesday April 24, 2012, I attended my first networking event held at the Business Lounge. It was a brainstorming session on youth and employment in Africa organized by The World Bank in collaboration with Africa Gathering. Videos of the event can be viewed at

The sound on the videos isn’t so good because it was raining heavily.

I met Su Kahumbu who is the founder of Green Dreams Kenya Ltd, the creator of iCow and a Ted Fellow.

Su Kahumbu speaking at the brainstorming session

I also met Marieme Jamme, one of the founders of Africa Gathering. She was leading the brainstorming session.

Finally, I was priviledged to have a 15 minute mentoring session with Mj Petroni, the principal at Causeit, Inc. In 15 minutes, he gave me an idea on how I can run a small pilot without necessary spending bucket loads of money. By doing this, I would have something to show to donors and venture capitalists when asking for funding.

My next networking event will be the Third IAALD Africa Chapter Conference on e-agriculture.

In other news, I went and cut off my hair in attempt to free up more time for my project! Now I look like this.