Do you want to set up a challenge? Best practices from the Food Connection Challenge

By on March 6, 2017

The Food Connection Challenge Ghana (FCC), an initiative of BoP Innovation Center and CrossWise Works facilitated by F&BKP and IBA, was launched as a business-led response to post-harvest losses in Ghana. The FAO indeed reports that post-harvest loss amounts up to 30-40% of the total food produced in Ghana, due to poor harvesting, storing and transportation facilities.


In June 2016, After an open application process targeting Ghanian agribusiness SMEs, FCC selected four Ghanaian agribusinesses producing tilapia, pineapple, peanut and groundnut products. Lack of proper storage facilities being one of the main causes of losses in their operations, FCC matched them with Dutch companies offering cold and non-cold storage facilities. Four student teams were involved to adapt the Dutch technologies for scaling in the context of the Ghanaian entrepreneurs.


The innovative ideas were evaluated by a jury of experts from NABC, RVO and Achmea Foundation at a public event. The winning idea, by Ghanaian enterprise Edanso Ltd, aims to reduce mould formation during storage of groundnuts by using an adapted version of Dutch company vQm’ vacuum packaging solution. The Post-Harvest Network awarded Stephen Danso a voucher that will support him in piloting this idea.


Learning along the way

The Food Connection Challenge was a great learning opportunity on organizing business challenges, facilitating matchmaking with impact and involving students to develop business cases. From the beginning of the challenge, main insights were logged, which lead to a full document of learnings from organizing the FCC, to share good (and less good) practices and to inform similar initiatives. Here are some key learnings, read the full report for more!  


  • A challenge can support various actors in reaching different goals. Managing all of these goals can be complex, as interests may diverge, or be difficult to align. Focusing is the key word for a successful challenge!


  • Challenges are better suited to inspire innovative ideas, rather than to actually have them implemented. If this is your wish, make sure you also include a piloting phase for (winning) participants, to bridge this gap and achieve more concrete results.


  • Rewards are key to success in challenges! All actors involved in the challenge need to see a return for their participation in order to stay motivated and enthusiastic. This does not (always) have to be financial, and can be very dependent on local context.


  • Challenges are a great instrument to facilitate knowledge exchange. Including different actors in a challenge also means involving different perspectives. Creating space for discussions and exchange is central to raise awareness and foster out-of-the-box thinking.