Agro-Hub, the brainchild of Valery Colong in 2008, has been making huge progress in the past 12 months and has received a £5,700 (US$9,150) grant from British based not-for-profit social entrepreneurs Indigo Trust.
Colong’s technology ‘SMSDeck’ was made possible by MTN’s Twitter SMS and allows the authorities to receive and disseminate information including crop disease, weather patterns and market prices to up to five thousand farmers at a time. SMSDeck will go live in Cameroon on next week.
Speaking to HumanIPO, Colong said: “I used to help my grandparents on their farm, but I have a background in computing. I thought I could use my skills to solve some of the problems facing us in Cameroon.
“Most of the problems arise from a lack of information.”
The Indigo Trust’s money and input has helped Agro-Hub to focus more on the information and technology side of the business rather than the original start-up, which was based on helping farmers sell their products at the right market price and offering a storage facility.
As well as thousands of farmers being able to receive the information from the authorities, they will be able to interact by sending their own information back which can then be circulated by the agencies.
The SMSDeck works on any mobile phone and Colong’s plan to make the business sustainable is to start offering the software for use in other industries.
He added: “We believe it could be a million dollar project. It is very exciting and the good thing is it helps the ICT part of our business to be self-sustainable.
“I am looking forward to seeing how people use it. There are more than 60 countries that are operating Twitter SMS so there is the potential for growth.”