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Currently, we are very fortunate that our team members pour in the resources they get from work and study into our enterprise; these resources have included access to world-class lab facilities and equipment on university campus grounds, personal connections from work networks to provide startup advice from legal to strategy matters (our lawyers being one of these), and even financial contributions towards things such as building our company website: www.iinnov8.org. We are simply working towards the first capital raising opportunity that will allow us take our venture into the next level' at which point we can mobilise ourselves on the ground to kick off operations.

1. Our formal partnership with the CMS Cameron McKenna LLP) supports us from a legal point of view, how best to operate in our end markets. We are also firming up our partnerships with Café Africa to assist with disseminating our technology to smallholder farmers in new markets. Informal relationships include Technoserve, whom have supported us with our market feasibility visit to Ethiopia and provided much needed guidance to the coffee landscape, and McKinsey and Company, having supported us with capital and our strategy in approaching this venture.
Our technology addresses the need for coffee farmers to increase their income and realise all the value from the sales of their processed coffee beans. For small holder farmers selling coffee beans processed via the dry method, they lose a significant amount of value because the quality of their processed beans is under the markets perception of high grade. Processing beans via the wet method would give these farmers better quality coffee to sell, however they do not have the technology to ensure high grade quality beans are produced if they use the wet method. This challenge has discouraged small holder farmers from processing beans themselves – instead they resort to either transporting beans to large processing facilities for a sum, or simply growing other crops that may sometimes be detrimental to the local community (in Ethiopia for example, smallholder farmers have been known to grow the local narcotic ‘Khat’ and sell in an underground economy) We are confident our technology fits the needs of the farmers as it is designed to be affordable and robust. From an affordability standpoint, we are aware smallholder farmers don’t have the resources for capital expenditure and have decided to explore the possibility of subscription or leasing schemes with communities of farmers; similar to what Technoserve set up in Ethiopia with loan structures between wet mills and the Oromia International Bank.
2. Questions on our venture so far include;
What is the capacity of your device?
We are developing 3 versions to support use cases that mirror the production levels of each group; the smallest version to support a close community of less than 7 farmers, the second version for a community of 15 farmers, and a third version to support large processing facilities (wet mills)
What groups stand to benefit from our device?
In our technology’s life cycle, the innovator and adopter groups, who would most likely be involved in one of three things at the moment (dry processing, selling raw beans to large processing plants, or growing Khat) will gain more visibility of the market price for high quality coffee beans. For those smallholder farmers selling raw beans to large processing plants, they would be able to demand a higher price from the processing plants with better knowledge of what these beans go for when wet processed. Both groups stand to achieve their income goals.
3. The two main reasons why this process hasn’t been adopted by small scale farmers is due to lack of access to adequate wet processing facilities and lack of training to up-skill these farmers from dry to wet processing methodology. Our technology takes away the need for much of the manual intervention required of traditional wet processing facilities, while still producing high quality coffee beans.
4. Indeed, Starbucks initiatives around upskilling small holder farmers in Rwanda and Costa Rica with better agronomy practices through their Farmer Support Centres, is inspiring, but unlike Starbucks however, we are placing more of an emphasis on the technology aspect of our proposition because we realise that when it comes to diffusing best practice for a process across a market, the best way to guarantee consistency is by ensuring everyone has access to a baseline level of functionality. This is a learning we have taken from the likes of Café Africa, whom in the past have run workshops to upskill small holder farming communities on wet processing but have been severely limited by their reach and thereby impact.
5. We are implementing SMS controller functionality as a familiar way for the farmers to interact with our device; for instance having our device send a text notification to alert when the water needs to be re-filled mid fermentation, or an alert when the fermentation process is complete. At the moment, SMS technology works for our target market given the maturity of the Telco infrastructure; for instance, WiFi would be quite difficult to establish and maintain in remote regions in Ethiopia. Other ways for the device to communicate to the farmers are being considered; for instance having our device sound alarms of different pitches depending on the notification type, or instead flashing colour coded notification for the same reasons. The feasibility of these options are bound to crystallise in the research trip our team has planned for October later this year.

Hi Chioma, 

Thank you for the reminder. It has been a really busy week for us. We have now uploaded the questions and user roadmap. 

Cheers, 
Ola