As I fly back to Lagos, it’s time to take stock and reflect on my two-week ‘Code for Good’ scholarship at Cambridge Consultants, working alongside some of the smartest people I have ever met! I’m grateful to the company for providing the opportunity, in partnership with the One Young World Summit 2019. That incredible event gave me a fantastic platform to network and make meaningful connections, while my time with Cambridge Consultants helped me focus on our business challenges at Farmz2U – and our ideas for making improvements.

We help our customers improve end to end efficiency through the integration of technology.

Farmz2U was founded with a vision to use technology to empower the next generation of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa at a critical moment. The population will double over the next 30 years – and so will the corresponding demand for food. According to World Bank figures, Africa will be home to 25% of the world’s population by 2050, so ensuring sustainable agriculture in our part of the world is essential for global food sustainability.

The first task in Cambridge was to sit down with the team and introduce them to our company’s Farming Management Platform. It’s a software solution that seeks to support a farmer’s entire value chain. We employ lead methodology in our software development which allows us to build, measure and learn quickly. Having tested a minimum viable product with real users, we have proved there’s a market for Farmz2U and that it can deliver impact. It’s put us in a position to prepare for a ‘soft release’ of the platform in Q2 2020.

The guidance from Cambridge Consultants has been invaluable in facilitating this transition. With access to such a wide range of experts – software engineers, data scientists and agritech hardware developers included – we have been able to devise a clearer roadmap to achieving our vision at Farmz2U.

Aligning with sustainable development

Scaling effectively is vital to us, so much of my time in Cambridge was devoted to ensuring we implement best practice and adopt an appropriately robust infrastructure. I believe that only with the strongest foundations will we be able to scale rapidly to address the social challenge of food sustainability. We are committed to aligning with Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Day-to-day variety is something I enjoy and am used to. That certainly didn’t change while I was in Cambridge. At the risk of sounding clichéd, every working day at Farmz2U is different for me. Some days I am out in the field, observing a farmer’s activities to provide context for the problems we seek to address. Other days are spent with stakeholders. It might be buyers of farm produce such as processors and distributors, or representatives of government agencies. In all cases, we work to understand their influence on the farmers’ activities so we can incorporate their needs into our solution. And of course, some days are focused on developing the platform alongside a team of developers, data scientists, agronomists and other experts.

My time at Cambridge Consultants was equally very varied. Surrounded by all those smart people, I had lots of meetings with experts in different fields: from AI, algorithms and analytics to software, UX and soil sensing. There are too many people to name individually, but it was really rewarding to work on value proposition and roadmapping with UX expert Sophia Godfrey, software architect David Rant and business development specialist Kieran Reynolds, who has extensive experience of technology product development in Africa.

They all provided valuable insight and expertise that can support our key activities. It was wonderful to introduce Farmz2U to the wider Cambridge Consultants’ community during an informal ‘brown bag lunch’ presentation, and I really enjoyed engaging with AgriTech East – and getting the opportunity to visit a 900-acre Norfolk farm.

Looking back, these past few weeks have delivered much of what my team and I hoped for and more. The ‘Code for Good’ scholarship appealed to me because of the opportunity to work with technology experts that could support the development of our solution in preparation for market launch. It certainly didn’t disappoint, nor did the One Young World Summit. As a gathering of young entrepreneurs, corporate organisations and prominent global leaders, it was a great opportunity to participate in important conversations that seek to address global challenges and provide a platform to implement solutions.

Author
Aisha Raheem
Founder, Farmz2U