KEY INDIVIDUAL(s)

Mark Davies

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM
THIS CASE STUDY

Policy/decision-makers
Social Entrepreneurs
Communities
Researchers

KEY CATEGORIES

Food Security

Agritech

Data

CONTACT CTIN

CASE STUDY

Connecting organisations with hard to reach communities

TYPE OF ORGANISATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INITIATIVE

NAME

EMAIL

WEBSITE

Esoko

info@esoko.com

STATUS

COUNTRY

FOUNDING DATE

Live

Ghana

2008

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CASE STUDY

Esoko is a technology firm helping organisations reach hard-to-reach communities with services, through web and mobile-based tools and value-added services. Managed on the web and delivered via mobile, individuals, agribusinesses, government, and projects use Esoko to collect and send out data using simple text messaging.

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM AND APPROACH?

What was the problem?

  • Despite smallholder farmers generating much of Ghana’s agricultural production, they have limited access to important information regarding the complex global food chains, and this prevents them from fully maximizing the value of their production.

What is the solution to the problem?

  • Esoko seeks to address this problem by deploying multiple data sources, including open government data, to permit farmers to secure better prices for their produce and level the playing field in price negotiations between farmers and buyers.
  • Esoko began in 2008, providing market prices over SMS to smallholder farmers on development projects. The aim was to see how the emergence of mobile technology in Africa, could improve the lives of rural communities across the continent. Over time Esoko has developed tools and services to help not only farmers but also to help agribusinesses and development organisations reach rural communities with services and solutions that help improve their livelihoods.
  • Today Esoko connects over 1 million farmers to essential services such as weather forecasts, agronomic advice, market linkages and insurance coverage over a range of channels including SMS, voice SMS, and call centre.
  • Esoko also provides powerful data collection and digitization tools, biometric profiling, analytics, as well as communication services. In addition to that, they also have additional services such as digital credit, insurance, payments, and transaction services. These services are now delivered in two ways, Data collection and profiling, and  Service Delivery.

See some of Esoko’s amazing work: Helping Farming Families In Northern Ghana Beat Climate Change Through Weather Alerts

WHAT WERE THE LESSONS LEARNED?

Enablers – existing market failures

Esoko came into being due to a propitious combination of phenomena: an inefficient agricultural information and support delivery system (extension agents); pervasive and relatively low-cost communication technologies (mobile phones/SMS); and the availability of data combined with the ongoing demand from farmers for relevant agricultural information. All these factors together created a market failure and thus a genuine opportunity, or niche, that could be occupied by an organization such as Esoko. Organizations seeking to develop similarly successful open data projects may therefore consider beginning by trying to identify similar market failures and niches.

Barriers 

Despite its relative success, Esoko faces four main challenges: deployment costs, infrastructure reliability, information quality on the supply side and information quality on the demand side.

Costs: As far as costs are concerned, deployment constitutes the bulk of Esoko’s expenses (95%) while the actual technology only contributes a small amount (5%). The costs of deployment place limits on the extent to which Esoko can provide free and equal access to its information products.

Infrastructure Reliability: In terms of infrastructure, access to mobile network infrastructure is at times difficult, restricting Esoko’s ability to provide a reliable, real-time service to its customers. An unreliable supply of electricity places a similar burden on Esoko’s operations. 

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NOTE: The case studies submitted will be used in content creation, we will write articles on your work that engages with our readers. The case studies will also be compiled and added to our CTIN database of civic tech case studies and shared through our various channels.