Test and taste your assumptions: developing business solutions for post-harvest losses

If there’s one word to describe the participants of the Food Connection Challenge in Benin and Nigeria, it is dedication. The 2018 Food Connection Challenge helps SMEs to improve business solutions for post-harvest losses. To ensure this dedication is also translated into viable business plans, a 3-day training at IITA in Ibadan and EtriLabs in Cotonou, provided by Crosswise Works and BoP Innovation Center, emphasised the need to identify and test the underlying assumptions on which the entrepreneurs’ plans are based. As one participant from Benin observed: ‘if I identify bakeries as a new customer segment for my coconut rest materials, are they ready to adopt coconut fibers as a (partial) alternative to wheat flour?’. The entrepreneurs left the training with a dedicated action plan to test these assumptions in practice, supported by local business coaches.

The next step in the Food Connection Challenge is the Clash of Ideas, which will take place mid-September. At this event, the business idea and the assumptions will be challenged. All of this is meant to give the business plans a final “shake.” How to turn good ideas into solutions that work in practise? Who has the solution that fits best with market conditions? Who can present the most reliable data on the effect of their solution?

An independent jury made up of experts from different fields will select the four entrepreneurs (five in Benin) with the most promising solutions to continue in the challenge.

After the Clash of Ideas, the remaining participants will come up with a concrete plan of how to spend their potential prize money (of up to a maximum of €20,000, provided by the Postharvest Network). The Food Connection Challenge is organized by Crosswise Works and Bop Inc, on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Parallel to the challenge in Nigeria, an edition of the Food Connection Challenge is simultaneously taking place in Benin.


For more info, see: www.foodconnectionchallenge.com