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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Plug and Play Day: Young innovators showcase new applications

By Bob Aston

The Fin4Ag conference: Revolutionising finance for agri-value chains taking place at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS) got underway on July 14, 2014with the elevator pitch style Plug and Play Day event. The event attracted over 250 participants from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
The Plug and Play Day offered innovators in the domain of technology for inclusive agricultural finance, and participants a valuable and very practical insight into the latest technological developments in the field of agricultural finance.
More than 18 innovators were on hand to present their latest technologies. Innovations profiled during the event included; Tangaza Pesa, Ensibuuko, FarmDrive, Zoona’s eVoucher platform, Farmforce, Credit Information Sharing (CIS), Umati Capital, Agrilife Platform, Farmers Record Management System (FARMIS), Musoni System, Farmer Management System, e-Krishok, Creditinfo’s Credit Bureau Solution, Craft Silicon, AgroCentral, aWhere Platform, RiMFin-Umarket disbursement Portal (Utiba) and finFinancials
Speaking during the introductory session, Michael Hailu, Director, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), informed participants that the main objective of holding the Plug and Play Day was to encourage young people to showcase innovation in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) oriented towards agriculture.
“The advantage of this is that we can get more younger people to focus on agriculture and key things in the agriculture sector and at the same time the ones who are already interested can connect with possible users and investors,” said Hailu.
He said CTA had held a similar event in 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda, which attracted a lot of interest thus prompting them to hold a similar event during this Fin4Ag Conference.
The main goal of the Plug and Play Day was to expose stakeholders to some of the tested and booming innovative tools and applications, as well as giving them an opportunity to try them out.
“The Plug and Play event is supposed to open young people to ICT innovation like mobile application that is very much focused on financial services,” said Hailu.
The Plug and Play Day was specifically tailored to the needs of stakeholder groups, such as farmers and farmer organisations, policy and decision-makers, intermediary organisations, private sector organisations and, in particular, banks.
The different sessions during the Plug and Play Day were designed to allow demonstrators to share their skills and expertise in an interactive format, learn with participants who were interested in using the tools as well as enabling the participants to have a hands on experience.
Various participants had the opportunity to “test-drive” the latest mobile applications, electronic warehousing systems and other technologies. They were also able to make the tools work for them in their agricultural finance activities.
Innovation provides some real opportunities for transforming agriculture and putting farmers in the driving seat. Mobile and web technologies are increasingly becoming important for the adaptation of new opportunities in value chain financing.
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