We were invited to work with the UN’s World Food program and the Elon Musk funded XPRIZE Foundation on their efforts to democratise access to the resources they have available to agritech founders across the world. The context of our invitation was this, how do we get more African tech founders engaging with our resources?” As program organisers working directly within the African tech ecosystem, we are providing the organisations with our insight. Our secret sauce or primary methodology is co-creation. With that in mind, ahead of the visit to meet the teams of both organisations in Munich, we asked some of our founders to give their views on the topic as well. A couple of the Afritech XYZ founders and our team are heading to Munich to discuss these insights in detail.
An AfriTech XYZ conversation with Owen Madara, Country Director of Growd Global.
Growd is striving to revolutionize how Africa educates its youth with its innovative edtech platform, which allows children and parents in Kenya to design their own holistic learning experiences in and outside classrooms.
Growd is a combination of the words ‘growth’ and ‘development’ and was launched in response to the challenges its founder, Angie Madara, had in accessing extra-curricular activities for her children. The edtech platform is designed for children aged 0 to 14 years and uses AI and machine learning to curate co-curricular educational activities. It is an inclusive ecosystem that connects parents and children to services and information tailored to each child's individual milestones, interests and goals so that they can learn inside or outside the classroom at their own pace.
Emmanuel Danso is the CEO and founder of Borla Daakye - a cleantech company based in Ghana.
Borla Daakye literally means future rubbish (‘borla’ is slang for trash and ‘daakye’ means future in twi, a local dialect) and the start-up is pioneering at the frontier of African environmentalism.
Borla Daakye positions itself at the forefront of cloud-based technology and environmental socialism in a country where there is a limited waste management infrastructure. Its technology enables residents in the Korlegono area in Accra to request collection of waste recycling and in the past year has picked up close to 200 tonnes of waste.
Striving to alleviate one of the key pain-points for residents -- the length of time it takes for waste to be collected from their homes -- the start-up also works hard educating the population on not just how to recycle but why recycling matters. Current initiatives include delivering training sessions in schools on innovative ways to repurpose waste material such as paper and plastic into new products.
So how does it work?
Borla Daakye strives to bridge the gap between the waste collection and recycling ecosystem in Ghana. It is no mean feat to undertake and admirably ambitious. Aiming to ease the lack of know-how on access to waste collectors and recycling schemes, the Borla Daakye app helps users interested in caring for the environment do something about it.
“People want to support recycling measures but don’t know where to send their waste. Since we have launched, we have been picking up close to one tonne of waste per day. We are, however, only in one area in Ghana and the intention is to scale up through the app and serve more areas. This is particularly important in fostering inclusion among our marginalised communities who find it even harder to access services. Our goal is to create a circular economy of recycling and upcycling waste without sending to already exhausted landfill sites.”
A brilliant element in the Borla Daakye service is the conversion of organic waste matter into fertiliser. This could have a truly positive impact on agriculture and the environment in the country. The technology overall is an important innovation in supporting Ghana’s contribution to global climate change initiatives.
Incentives for change
Borla Daakye offers incentives for its customers including rewarding them with household items, airtime (for mobiles) and educational supplies such as books and pencils. The CEO acknowledges that some of the challenges facing cleantech innovators include educating users to change behaviour and attitudes towards recycling and offering incentives is one small way to develop engagement.
Another challenge is scalability and having other players to partner with for research and development so the sector can grow. This would also no doubt widen the reach of communities served.
Borla Daakye sees their solution as relevant for many years to come as the problem of waste disposal is a perennial one, particularly with a growing population in Ghana. Emmanuel also hopes to create employment opportunities as the company grows. This startup is truly creating a new path to democratise access to waste management services and supporting environmental health initiatives - including the fragile marine ecosystem.