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KESHO - rural agro shops employing inter-ethnic staff and selling green agric inputs in regions prone to ethnic violence in Cote d'Ivoire

A network of agro-input shops with ethnic diversity staff that build bridges and prosperity in ethnicity-sensible regions of Cote d'Ivoire

Photo of Richard Seshie

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

We conducted a number of trips in the locality of Guiglo to engage with inhabitants and local authorities in the past weeks, conducting qualitative interviews and role play. We captured the most sincere tone when inhabitants will narrate precedent episodes of inter-ethnic violence due to land conflict and the general fed-'upness of the current environment that inhibits strong economic activity which makes mitigating or solving this a priority to them.

We estimate through field observation that 30 to 40% of land in the locality is fertility-stressed or unfertile. Our shops will introduce a range of agro inputs at their doorstep that improve soil health while the space within our shop premises' will serve to impart agricultural best practices drawn from both the local knowledge of capable farmers and from practices we observed have worked elsewhere in the country and promote peaceful community living .

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Once abundant, rural land was granted to ethnics migrating to other parts of the country - the locals felt slowly disenfranchised. Bad farming practices led to soil poverty and combined with population growth led to land scarcity. 1st-generation gave way to 2nd-generation of migrants (their sons) who are confronted with episodes of violence with locals due to land access conflicts. As a rural titling program is being rolled out, this is a unique window to rebuild trust and bridges.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Our agro shops will become highly visible models of inter-ethnic interaction by employing ethnic diversity staff working together.
Our agro shops provide environmentally-friendly agricultural inputs that will substantially help maintain or restore soil fertility in the region (such inputs were previously located far away, not readily available). Our shops will use layaway plans to offer affordability and become the epicenters to share best practices in farming and soil health

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Through our agro shops initiative, we intend to rebuild bridges and revitalize trust between the ethnic communities living in the locality of Guiglo, one of the epicenters of inter-ethnic violence in Cote d'Ivoire. We intend to help restore or maintain soil health of 2000 acres in the next 18 months and 100% of all degraded soil in 48 months. As the shops are expected to generate revenue, the model will self-sustain.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We intend to further leverage the existence of the agro input shops and of our ethnically diverse staff. The branding of the shops will incorporate accessible artwork vehiculating peaceful cohabitation and togetherness messages and Staff will undergo conflict mediation training. In addition, the rural communities in the targeted area have expressed a need of growing foodstuff to feed the school canteens and are willing to make land available. Kesho will provide free agro inputs and staff community hours to the community on the condition the planting and maintenance of crops involves manpower from both ethnics. We feel more of such community projects will develop as we are established.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

Month 1-5: Confirmation of core suppliers of agro inputs
Month 1-6: Ongoing community mobilization, Establishing our agro input shop and Recruiting Staff
Month 6-18: The agro input shop is up and running and activities are ongoing

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

-Richard Seshie. 12 years of involvement in the fields of social impact entrepreneurship. Orange African Social Entrepreneur of the year 2012.
-Paule Aurore Koffi. MSc. in Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management from the University of Nottingham in Ningbo (China) and a BBA in Business Economics from Georgia State University
-Ibrahim Wha Doumbia. Former West Africa representative for an agro-fertilizer company. 8 years of experience in building agro value chains.

Partners listed below.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

We would like to sollicit funds to provide a comprehensive implementation of the initiative including pre-establishment activities in ongoing community mobilization, the establishment of the agro shops and in providing 12 months of operating cashflow to make the initial setup viable.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

Just one, How can we further leverage the existence of the agro input shops?

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Cote d'Ivoire experienced a decade-long civil war and crisis from 2002 to 2011. A major cause of this conflict stemmed from ethnic tensions. Since independence, people from the center of the country, BAOULES, have been encouraged to move to fertile lands of the west and south-west of the country where they have been granted superficialities to grow cocoa, coffee and foodstuff.

Over the years, resentment kept building up due to the perceived prosperity accumulated from the immigrants and the shrinking availability of fertile lands. Ethnic violence between owners of lands and their hosts have been prevalent in the west side of the country, between the BETE and BAOULE ethnics and the GUERE and BAOULE ethnics. This translates frequently into episodes of devastating violence as has been the case in October 2017 with thousands of people displaced and just recently in June 2018 with material damage and families displaced.

Following the end of the Ivorian crisis, the government in 2018 is finally embarking on an ambitious rural land titling program to last until 2020 at least. This program will provide formal land titles to dozens of thousands of rural inhabitants for the first time.

However, nothing is forthcoming to revive and repair bridges. In addition, a significant amount of land acreage in the region is infertile due to previous bad farming practices and adds to poverty.
With inter-ethnic mistrust being so persistent, the urgency is to establish alongside the titling program (a good window of opportunity) an initiative to repair bridges.

KESHO wants to establish a network of agro-input shops selling agricultural inputs and tools to small farmers. Our particularity is 3-fold:
- The shops are located in the most ethnicity-sensible regions of Cote d'Ivoire
- Staff is made up of ethnic diversity staff. You will find the GUERE's and BAOULE's ethnics
- The shops sell greener inputs such as compost and bio fertilizers to restore or improve soil fertility.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries are farmers with small plots whose average age is 43 years old and their families, cultivating on land between 2 to 15 acres that will benefit from better agro dealership services. The beneficiaries are the estimated 15 direct jobs to be created among unemployed youth and their families. The beneficiaries are the estimated 150,000 people living in the region that due to our intervention benefit from an appeased environment where ethnic dialogue and cohabitation exists.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There exist few practical initiatives to foster inter-ethnic cohabitation in Cote d'Ivoire. Our idea is innovative and pragmatic building from the context, realities and aspirations of the farming communities of Cote d'Ivoire and of this particular region.
Our organization and especially the project team blends expertise in both farm services & management; entrepreneurship and communication for development & social change.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

ASSOCIATION 3535 designs and implements initiatives that foster social entrepreneurship in Cote d'Ivoire. http://association3535.club/indexenglish.html

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

A member of our organization lost a relative due to an ethnic violence episode. Another member of our organization spends significant time in rural communities and has been an inspiring voice and guidance to this initiative.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is influenced by fostering ethnic cohabitation in the region.
Prosperity is influenced by helping smallholder farmers access more effectively agricultural inputs and tools that boost their productivity.
Planet is influenced by helping smallholder farmers to adopt a more climate-friendly agriculture such as promoting and making available organic and bio fertilizers to improve/restore soil health in this region.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Community Mobilizer: GRAINOTHEQUE is an organization that works to increase the productivity of smallholder farmer agriculture and its adaptation to climate change through innovative projects and tools for preserving seed genetic diversity, integrated pest management and soil improvement. GRAINOTHEQUE has established the very first rural incubator in Cote d'Ivoire for young rural entrepreneurs and an innovation space experimenting with agricultural innovations located in the heart of our targeted region. GRAINOTHEQUE co-created with the communities of the region of Cavally and implemented "FEPRO-AGR", an annual Festival aimed at promoting avenues to setup Income Generating Activities in Agriculture for rural youth.

Agro input value chain expertise sharing:
GREEN COUNTRIES COMPOST is the first indigenous local producer of compost in Cote d'Ivoire. Their product won in 2017 the rural innovation of the year in the "fertilizer" category by the National Research Institute FIRCA.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Cash-crop agriculture (as against subsistence crops) drives demand for increased agric services.
Traditional rulership structures can be leveraged in mobilizing both communities.

Geographic Focus

The locality of Guiglo and its surroundings in the Cavally region of Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

18 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

24 comments

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Photo of Anubha Sharma
Team

Hello Richard, im glad there are people like you who are working to restore soil fertility, i think use of chemicals has ruined much of our ecology. It will be interesting to know what other efforts are being made to foster peaceful cohabitation.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thank you Anubha! The way it works today are that conflicts erupt first and then you have mediation either from the traditional chiefs or state representatives to appease everyone and get back to some semblance of normal life. Our initiative KESHO will be one of the early attempts to foster peaceful cohabitation in these communities.

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