The Daily Nation, Kenya: Cash for Best Business or Farming Idea for Grabs
By Mercy Gakii, The Daily Nation, September 9, 2010
Do you have a brilliant idea, one that could bring in profits if implemented, and one that you have been itching to tell? Well, itch no more. Your idea could fetch up to Sh240,000 within a month of you hatching it, along with support to help you grow your business.
With monthly cash awards to kickstart the top three best voted business ideas, an organisation of former Peace Corps volunteers from the United States has developed a plan to help match up African farmers with experts, technologies, and new ideas that can help African fields bring in more harvest.
Called Africa Rural Connect, or ARC, the advocacy group aims to connect 200,000 current and past Peace Corps volunteers, farm and technology experts with Africa’s millions of small farmers and businesses.
Behind ARC is the conviction that, as useful as big international programmes may be, sometimes the best ideas come from farmers or unsung development experts.
Their website, www.africaruralconnect.org is a resource for discussing issues, identifying problems, and building viable solutions to some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most entrenched problems.In four rounds of monthly competitions, the first cash prize is Sh240,000, while the second cash award is Sh160,000. The third position will get Sh80,000 in a competition that runs until November 15.
Winners will be determined through online voting, where an idea with the highest votes each month wins the cash prize.
The three winning ideas for each month will then be entered into a final draw in December, where the judges will determine who walks away with a start-up capital of Sh1.6 million.The award also includes an opportunity to meet with members of various donor organisations where they can present their project plans.
Supported by a nine-month grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ARC is a state-of-the-art work collaboration tool that enables collaboration between people who share the desire to support small farmers in rural Africa.
The site is distinct because it introduces and encourages a new form of collaboration, in that when users read each other’s ideas for development in Africa, not only can they discuss it and endorse the idea, they can also make modifications to it by contributing from their own personal experience and insights.
The programme also builds an international network of people who have experience and insights about the needs of African farmers
According to Molly Mattessich, manager of Africa Rural Connect, many ideas that are relevant to the rural communities are not shared beyond the village, and in the end they are not implemented.
We at the ARC want to team up with these rural masses to help them work out their projects and plans, and ultimately help these communities.” She pointed out that a lot of the ideas that she got to share with the people whom she worked with when she served in Mali, are the daily issues such as post-harvest losses, water resources, information communication technology (ICT) and agri-business ideas.
A person or a group of business or non-profit organisation partners may post their business idea, whether it is fully thought out or not. Other people are allowed to build on a person’s idea in the website, and no previous writing experience is required.
Your idea may be as short as a paragraph, or as long as 20 pages or more, Mattessich said.
In August, the top prizes went to West Africa, with the highest cash prize going to a Nigerian’s telecommunications project, while third place went to a Ghanaian who runs a Soybean business.
The second round entries should be in by September 15 to qualify for this month, and an entrant can encourage their friends to vote for his or her idea.
Kenyans may have missed two weeks to send in their project ideas, but those with brilliant ideas can send them by logging to the ARC website. The group is also accessible from social networking site, Facebook.
Source: The Daily Nation
Win a prize for your idea!
Win a prize for your idea!
Collaborate with others to turn your best idea into a practical, creative, sustainable plan with real world impact. Don’t Delay!