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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 strongly inhibits social and economic activity which makes mitigating / 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 agricultural 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 (sons/daughters) who are confronted with episodes of violence with locals due to land access conflicts. As a national 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 arr not located close by, 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 10,000 acres of fertility-stressed land 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 (including an equal representation of men and women as much as possible). The branding of the shops will incorporate accessible Artwork and Employee stories on walls vehiculating peaceful cohabitation/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)

Months 1-4: Confirmation of core suppliers of agro inputs Months 1-6: Ongoing community mobilization Months 1-6: Establishing our agro input shop and Recruiting Staff Months 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 (UK/China) and a BBA in Business Economics from Georgia State University (USA) -Ibrahim 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 secure funds to undertake a comprehensive implementation of the initiative including pre-establishment activities (forexample community mobilization), the establishment of the agro shops and in providing 6 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?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): 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)

Our thinking has evolved from "we just set up" Agro-input shops to "let's think of ways of leveraging " the actual physical presence of such spaces to identifying over time new approaches to build inter-community peace, prosperity and caring for the planet. One early example is we can use our premises to organize football friendlies or support the local school canteen program through maintaining a health vegetable farm. In short, using the Agro-input shops as a "multiplier"

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

Thank you. All the changes have been highlighted above. We feel our agric shops model will make a significant contribution to the environmental, social and economic welfare of the targeted communities

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 great 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-inputs Expert Partner: 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 grown in the region (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

36 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Hi Richard Seshie hope you are doing well! Was wondering if you could expand a bit on what exactly you mean by your question: 'Just one, How can we further leverage the existence of the agro input shops?' Looking forward to better understanding!

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Ashley, awesome to e-connect! I will say that we consider that Agro-shops can expand beyond physicals space to being a sort of launchpad for more intercommunity dialogue and trust initiatives. So we are open to new twists, approaches, perspectives in improving our initiative or simply connecting to opportunities and partners that can lend support.

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Thanks for sharing excited to see what comes next with your work!

Photo of Innocent N. Tshilombo
Team

Hello Richard,
Thank you for promoting social changes with this project. I think among the factors that affect most of the communities that have experienced civil war. Do you think that you there won't be a selection bias among the beneficiaries to decide to source from you the products?

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Innocent thank you. The beneficiaries are the local communities and farmers from these communities who do not always have proximity agric shops to serve their needs. I believe it will be indeed a welcome development and improvement for them to have the shops within their areas

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi Richard as part of the Expert Feedback Phase I want to address your unanswered question or challenge that you could use support on in your project below.

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

Perhaps you can connect with Regeneration International and collaborate with them and learn from their global network addressing land restoration by restoring soils around the world. See some projects here http://www.regenerationinternational.org/2017/05/31/21-innovative- regeneration-projects/

Also see the Regeneration Hub www.regenerationhub.co/ and load up your project for sharing information with others working on regeneration ok.

Please give my best wishes to Emmanuel Edudzie whom I worked with from the very start of the Young Employment Summit (YES) Campaign in Alexandria, Egypt back in 2002. I am very inspired to see what he has been able to do for the young people of Ghana over the years.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Bremley, awesome looking forward to connecting to Regeneration International. Thanks!

Photo of Joy Banerjee
Team

Hi Richard Seshie ,

I like your idea of Agro shops , Are you also working on producing Bio char which helps in reducing carbon emissions with excellent remedy for soil fertility.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Joy, thank you. Our initial plan is to really focus on having the Agro-shops up and running.  This way, we'd prefer to work with suppliers of different inputs. One such supplier on top of our list for example is "Green Countries Compost", a local producer of bio compost (made from agric and household waste) that addresses soil fertility. We'll be proactive in getting into our shops green and climate-friendly products :)

Photo of Joy Banerjee
Team

Hi Richard , That's great I will be in touch with you , All the best and good luck. thanks

Photo of Yossef Ben-Meir
Team

Hi Richard,
What a wonderful idea. I sincerely look forward to the long-term progress of your project. I understand that you plan on implementing a conflict management training for shop staff. What will be your approach to conducting the workshop? Conflict management methods are also participatory ones, and the roles of conflict mediators overlap with facilitators of community development. There is therefore a real opportunity to draw into your methodology procedures of participatory development to help achieve mutual recognition and identify shared interests. As you know, joint development planning and action among the parties is also a key toward reconciliation.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thank you for your kind words Yossef. We are not entirely familiar with the breadth and depth of all conflict management approaches (and we will definitely fill this knowledge gap before launch). Till then, more insights and advice are welcome. Indeed, joint development planning and action are central to reconciliation and peace

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.

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Very important project idea and I love the way that you employed role-playing to help improve perspectives, prototype, and refine your project!

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thank you Marnie!

Photo of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)
Team

This sounds like a very promising idea! How would you plan to handle any conflicts that might arise between employees in the workplace, particularly those of different ethnicities?

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thank you! As part of their induction program, all employees will undergo a conflict management and resolution training.

Photo of Jaskeerat Bedi
Team

Hi Richard Seshie 

Super excited to read through Kesho's vision to bridge ethnic divide through agro farming. As Jean-Marc Mercy mentioned in his comment, refining the idea is very critical in this stage. It will be great to see some personas highlighting the differences and commonalities between immigrants and Ivorian nativists. Here is a great article to build personas- https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/personas-why-and-how-you-should-use-them

I really liked the awareness, discovery and problem fixed visual flow explained at the beginning of the post, however, would love to see it evolve to how you plan to bridge inter- ethnic groups.

Lastly, Would like to know more about agro shops, where are they geographically located? How do you envision the space? Can the shops used post business hours? What are some other community needs that agro-shop can meet?

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Jaskeerat,

Comments well noted!

We are refining the idea by getting out there and engaging all the participants.

In respect of your question about agro shops, Cote d'Ivoire counts 6.1 million smallholder farmers and 75% of the national territory constitutes agricultural land. The agro shops are located on a nationwide basis but with an unequal presence. From observations, there are many more agro shops in the eastern and southern parts of the country. There are fewer in the northern and western parts of the country (the latter where our project is and this means farmers have to cover greater distances to reach them).
These shops are vital for small farmers to access fertilizer, bags, machetes and small agric machinery.

The shops can be used post business hours. We envision them as the center of gravity of inter-ethnic interaction in communities both through the inter-ethnic mixing of personnel and by organizing activities that promote tolerance, trust and peace.

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Hello Richard Seshie ,
Congratulations on making it to the shortlist! Now is time to refine your idea, and we will be here to support you and provide tips and resources. To further refine your idea, please consider the following:
• Start prototyping your idea with real users, and refine your user experience map based on feedback received
• Leverage the refinement resources: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B3G2w5FERlm5Z0Foc2ozT3dDa2M
• Describe how your idea will inspire other actors working in other regions in Ivory Coast on building trust in communities and sharing economic prosperity
• How will you measure the impact of your efforts to ensure that trust is rebuilt among those ethnic groups?
• How have your current beneficiaries responded to your prototype so far? Sharing a story would help a lot.
We’ll be rooting for you!

Jean-Marc and Jaskeerat Bedi 

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thank you Jean-Marc Mercy and Jaskeerat Bedi . We've run field studies and extended them with qualitative interviews which has been useful to refine the idea 

Photo of James Patton
Team

Richard Seshie 

Great idea! Shared economic enterprise is a great way to resolve and mitigate ethnic conflict and I think the idea of agro-input shop operates on that level in a number of ways. Beyond a shared economic interest, what other conflict resolution mechanisms are built into the project? Are there any plans to do conflict mediation trainings with the ethnically diverse staff of these shops? It seems that these shops, if populated by ethnically diverse employees, will serve as a model for the greater community.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello James, thank you. Indeed, we want these shops to serve as model of strength that embrace ethnic diversity. Yes we are looking along the lines of what you mentioned. Approaches such conflic mediation trainings, branding of the shops vehiculating positive messages, community projects to be led by the staff. Once the shops and the mindset carrying its life are established, we expect more resolution mechanisms taking shape. 


   

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Hello Richard! This is a good idea. Bringing people from different ethnic backgrounds to work together shows that you are trying to build bridges. Have you also considered a training to build trust in the community? If so, are you thinking of partnering with organizations that provide such training?

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Jean Marc, thank you. Because the shops are physical spaces, the premises can be used for trainings as well. We remain open to any good suggestions in that regard. Thanks!

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Hi Richard Seshie this is an interesting approach to solving conflict in Cote d'Ivoired. I like Ozuluonye Shedrack 's point of really understanding why ethnic violence keeps happening. You might want to consider doing some light prototyping with your suggested solution and learn as much as you can from the people you are designing for in the local community. You might use this prototyping toolkit as a guide: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/6512cb2c-a57f-4b8c-a0d9-2c39d7edc180.pdf
What are your thoughts on this Jean-Marc Mercy ?

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Hello Isaac, perhaps i may not have worded it correctly. The reasons for ethnic violence are known: locals in the west/south-west have granted extensive land to other ethnics since decades. When say the local person die a few years later, the family of the local may try to revoke or try to milk out more. Because proper rural titling is missing; this can degenerate between parties if they are not open to negotiation. This has been exacerbated in recent years as locals resent to some extent other ethnics since they feel they are enriching faster (or perceived enrichment as i said) and the shrinking availability of fertile* land (there is land but not all are fertile. some good chunk has been degrading due to bad practices).

Now the government has embarked on an ambitious rural titling program. Where we feel we complement this is that the agro-input shops can be hubs to access organic fertilizers/tools and to teach good land management practices and that there is an absolute need to repair relationships/build bridges between these communities and so we want to staff in our shops people from both ethnics and show that we can do business and win together.

We will look at the light prototyping document, thank you.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Good questions Ozuluonye Shedrack . Ethnic violence is not perceived but real, happening occasionally from seemingly small events that can degenrate. The agro-input shops are meant to become highly visible places fostering inter-ethnic dialogue with a specific policy and branding of hiring diversity ethnic staff and organizing monthly events around inter-ethnic dialogue. Our shops will offer layaway payment allowing vulnerable farmers to pay in increment for inputs and then receive them. The number of shops per thousands of inhabitants is relatively small, especially in this region -Cavally) and all of them do not have organic fertilizer that is more and more embraced by farmers in the south for example.

Photo of Ozuluonye Shedrack
Team

Hello Richard Thanks for taking the time to reply. On perceive I was citing (Over the years, there have been resentment due to the perceived one-sided prosperity accumulated from the immigrants and the shrinking availability of fertile lands).
Try doing the following: What are the reasons for conflicts in your targeted location? If you are certain and considering only one variable ( fertile lands) as the only variable (inequality) then it will be easier to arrive at a workable solution. But if there are other hidden factors (problems) which are not addressed ALONGSIDE your current idea! then the feedback will be mixed with errors.

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thanks, see my reply above to Isaac Jumba

Photo of Luz Gallo
Team

Hey Richard, very interesting idea. Since you want related to social integration were there has been racial violence: Have you considered the strategies to use in order to group the participants of the project?

Photo of Richard Seshie
Team

Thank you Luz, word-of-mouth and taking into account designated or recommended persons fro traditional village chiefs ould be some options in bringing the participants of the project.

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi Richard I like your project idea and I am also implementing an agroforestry project in my home state Meghalaya in north east India and in the post conflict zones of Sri Lanka. But right now I am working on developing a blockchain to power the first Ecosystem Services market place that rewards indigenous communities to restore the Eastern Ghats in India. Together with out local partners in India we are building bridges between community driven mountain ecosystem restoration using blockchain technology for sustainable development financing. https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/developing-a-blockchain-to-power-the-first-ecosystem-market-place-that-rewards-communities-to-restore-and-protect-the-eastern-ghats-in-india

Perhaps we can collaborate at a later stage as you progress on your project idea. I wish you and your team all the very best.

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Hello Bremley Lyngdoh , I feel it will be interesting for you to share the insights as you go along with trying out your idea of using blockchain technology!

Photo of Ozuluonye Shedrack
Team

Hello Richard, 

Great, I look forward to how your intended network of agro-input shops can solve the perceived ethnic violence. Will there be any sort of lending or discount that would further draw the attention of all to your shop if opened? Are there no similar shop where same items can be purchased in respective communities? Why will your shop be considered by small holders farmers with little or no money?