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Mathias Charles Yabe, CEO of AkoFresh

Mathias Charles Yabe: Meet The Young Innovator Behind Ghana’s Green Cold Chain Company, AkoFresh

Exclusives

Jan. 8, 2022, 12:05 a.m.

Mathias Charles Yabe grew up in a small village in the eastern part of Ghana, where he experienced food insecurity and financial instability. His grandparents spent many hours on their farm during pre and post-harvest activities with no mechanised technologies, leading to low income and productivity. The situation was enough motivation for Charles to found AkoFresh.

As the co-founder and CEO of AkoFresh, his social entrepreneurship journey started in 2018 when he got admission into the university. A volunteer trip exposed him to the issue of post-harvest losses, which was very detrimental to the people of the Akumadan community in Ghana. As a young innovator who grew up in a small farming village, this problem inspired him to create a solution to mitigate the issue of post-harvest losses in Ghana.

Since 2018, the young entrepreneur’s mission has been to strengthen and make food systems resilient and introduce climate-smart solutions in local communities across Africa. His company, AkoFresh, is a green cold chain enterprise that offers smallholder farmers effective preservation services and a mobile application that connects farmers to food aggregators to help reduce post-harvest losses. Through global collaboration, Charles teamed up with two like-minded students, Arina Machine and Dhruvika Sosa from Finland and India, respectively, as co-founders to support AkoFresh’s mission to reduce food waste.

The trio has designed a solar-powered cold storage preservation technology that extends the shelf life of perishable crops from 5 days to 21 days. This off-grid cold store is available to smallholder farmers as a service where farmers pay a daily fee of $0.30 per 20kg crate stored or pay weekly subscription fees. While farmers keep their crops, AkoFresh further assists farmers in selling off their crops at competitive prices. AkoFresh mobile off-grid cold room is multipurpose. The cold room accommodates fresh fish and medical materials such as vaccines in some cases.

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the solar-powered cold storage preservation technology

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AkoFresh is presently the first social enterprise offering an off-grid cold chain solution to smallholder farmers and traders in Ghana using the Pay-AS-You-Store model. The social enterprise is currently operating in Ghana with access to over 2,000 farmers in Akumadan and Afrancho communities with plans to scale and reach additional 3,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana by 2023.

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Charles with smallholder farmers

“Global food waste contributes up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. We often see millions of farmers work hard but not get enough money from their yield since their produce is lost to post-harvest losses. In Sub-Saharan Africa, smallholder farmers lose up to 40% of all harvested crops before it gets to the consumer. The situation makes our work at AkoFresh more critical as a blueprint to mitigate food waste emissions and create lasting profits for smallholder farmers in Africa.”

“I am excited to introduce this one of a kind solution in Ghana. It calls for stronger and resilient food systems because post-harvest losses is not a problem faced by only Ghanaian farmers but a problem that cuts across many farming communities in Africa”, Mathias told DT Africa.

“Every solar cold room we set up is reducing up to 16.5 tons of food waste CO2 emissions each month. With two of our preservation units operating, we are avoiding over 300 tons of CO2 emissions annually and contributing to a net-zero world”, he finished.

In 2019, Mathias was selected to join the Millennium fellowship cohort, the United Nations Academic Impact and MCN. This program convenes, challenges, and celebrates bold student leadership advancing the Sustainable Development Goals on campuses and communities.

In September 2021, Mathias was selected as a Winner and Top Innovator in the Generation Restoration Youth Challenge hosted by the World Economic Forum. The award recognises young ecopreneurs working to conserve and restore ecosystems worldwide.

AkoFresh was the Community Prize winner in the Techstyle for Social Good International Competition by The Mills Fabrica, Grand Prize winner in the Fishbowl Challenge and Winner of the OpEx Prize.

“In the next five years, my team and I will scale to 5 additional communities in Ghana and have a presence in 2 new African countries which will let us reach over 15,000 smallholder farmers and traders”, Mathias stated.

Visit www.akofresh.com to learn more about AkoFresh and support Mathias and his team’s journey to reduce postharvest losses in Africa.

tag: Africa, Agritech, Startup, Food Security, Agriculture,

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Verny Joy Author

Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.

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