By Bertil van Vugt on December 7, 2010
Just over a month after the launch of the new VC4Africa website we take a look at the most popular venture so far: Agro-Hub: 8 questions to Cameroonian entrepreneur Valery Colong.
How did VC4Africa help your company so far?
“Thus far, VC4Africa has helped my venture gain tremendous exposure; publicity it didn’t get nine months earlier or before my involvement with VC4Africa. Personally, I have gained tips into how to attract investors to my venture from VC4Africa. But I have not spoken to investor yet.”
Can you please describe your business idea?
“My idea for Agro-Hub is to take over control and become the main food distribution company throughout my country Cameroon. I want to do that by setting up a food distribution network that gives farmers direct control over the marketing of their crops via Agro-Hub:Trader, the for-profit component of Agro-Hub. At the same time farmers will also benefit from information dissemination made possible via Agro-Hub:Informer, the not-for-profit component of Agro-Hub). For this to be possible, we start by connecting with farmers and gain their trust by delivering vital information to their mobile phones free of charge and later we’ll engage them in trading transactions for common gains.”
Why is your idea unique?
“My idea is simple and most people can see immediately how this approach can solve the numerous challenges faced by farmers in most of rural Africa. Many initiatives designed to solve the information and communications need of farmers using SMS and mobile phones expects farmers to pay for the SMS they receive, without necessarily increasing their incomes. They also expect farmers to already possess knowledge about SMS texting and cell phone use. On the contrary, my approach works first to increase farmers’ income before charging them for the information they receive.”
What are the key milestones achieved to date?
“To date, we have 210 registered farmers and we are connected with all delegates of agriculture and rural development within the chosen pilot region in Cameroon: Fako Division.”
Who is your target audience?
“For a start, my target audience is the local farmers and consumers (buyers) of farm products. Long term, I will be targeting buyers from abroad.”
Why do you think your venture is currently ranked nr.1 at the VC4Africa website?
“First of all, my idea is a simple one and is easy to visualize and I guess people like elegant concepts. Second, my venture is the first to be listed on the VC4Africa; the tendency is that people get used to it.”
How will you use VC4Africa in the future?
“VC4Africa will continue to serve as a place for me to learn more about business and to share experiences with like-minded persons. I shall regularly visit the site to share my experiences and to tell the rest of the business minds on the site what progress I have made, challenges I face and seek solutions to problems by way of blogging and posting up dates.”
How can members contact you?
Members can contact me by sending a private message directly from the site or by email via valery.colong at agro-hub.com or via Twitter @agrohub. Also see: http://www.agro-hub.com/
View the Ventures section to read about other business ideas.