Before Esoko, we didn’t know the prices; we just sent the products when they are ready. But now we know the prices and also when to sell our products. Before, I sent my 100 tubers of yam to Accra and could get GHc 20 for it, now I check prices and go to Accra when prices are good. I get up to GHc 200 for 100 tubers.” Prosper Biche, Kpandai, Ghana
ESOKO, a Ghanaian technology firm, has received a 1.25 million dollar equity investment from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Soros Economic Development Fund.
The investment in Esoko will give smallholder farmers and businesses in Ghana and other African countries timely crop information that can be shared via text messaging, enabling farmers to increase their incomes.
According to the Managing Director of Esoko Ghana, Bernard Otabil, the funding offers ESOKO the opportunity to sustain support for farmers over the long term. Adding that the investment from the IFC and SEDF is a manifestation of growing confidence in the business.
“Funding provides you the opportunity to actually implement your plan on paper and before anyone commits to taking up any investment in any organization, they have to be really sure that over the long term, the return on investment will be achieved.
“We know what our critical market really is; we have a plan in terms of making sure every farmer everywhere have access to the information that we provide. We are committed to improving livelihoods to help them to achieve their goals of poverty alleviation and also overall contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals”, he said.
Esoko was started as TradeNet in 2005 with the encouragement of the UN’s FAO and in partnership with FoodNet in Uganda. Esoko is one of several new Market Information Systems emerging from the rapid distribution of cellphones in developing countries. Focussed on agricultural marketing, it provides current market data via SMS and the web to stakeholders within the agriculture and trade sectors in developing countries.
The Esoko idea came after the TradeNet team visited Rwanda and learnt from eRwanda Project on Market Prices called e-Soko originated from Rwandan name Soko which means Market and “therefore electronic Market”.
The ESOKO software is currently being used in nine African countries.
To learn more, visit http://www.esoko.com/