Esoko is a technology platform and consulting service that helps organizations profile people and manage the information flows between them. Our focus is on agricultural value chains with the explicit goal of improving the transparency of markets and the operational efficiency of organizations. We believe mobile phones provide an unprecedented and disruptive opportunity to change how markets work for both businesses and consumers.
On one hand, Esoko collects and provides content such as prices, bids and offers, weather, and agricultural tips to which users can subscribe. On the other, Esoko provides a powerful set of tools so that organizations can manage their own information and content: not only pushing out alerts and advisories to the field, but also tracking information from the field (like activities, compliance, profiles). Organizations can choose to keep their data private, share it, or use other content that is publicly available from any of the other Esoko countries. Esoko is a mobile-enabled, cloud based service. You can use it on any phone or computer without any special hardware or software and from anywhere with an SMS or data connection.
Information is power in any business, and farmers are no different. Smallholder farmers can sign up to Esoko to receive a package of weekly advisory services. This typically consists of current market prices, matching bids and offers, weather forecasts, and news and tips. In some countries, advisories may also be sent by voice messages, and a live call centre of agricultural experts can be available to complement data alerts with voice support.
Not only can farmers negotiate better prices, choose different markets, or time sales better, but they may also participate in outgrower schemes through Esoko profiling and reputational history. Our goal is simply to put more money into the hands of smallholder farmers, and try to address the information asymmetry that exists where farmers are frequently disadvantaged price-takers, often selling at a loss. After receiving better information, income improvements for farmers are estimated to be between 10-30%. Sometimes individual sales to new markets can increase by 100%. Esoko is not trying to remove the important role that traders must continue to play, but believes a more transparent system will reduce the overall time to market for goods, improve margins for all, and create an ecosystem of facilitation and brokering.
Businesses everywhere need to manage information. They need to source market information from their suppliers and agents, and they need to inform customers and consumers about new products, best practices and commercial opportunities. Currently businesses are tracking people, stock levels, input credits, field visits, market prices, commodity transfers . . . all on paper.
It's time consuming, prone to errors and rarely gives an owner the snapshot of the market and business they need to react to ever changing market dynamics. With Esoko, businesses can profile thousands of individuals, group them, and then send important messages to them via discounted SMS. They can schedule, repeat and track how these messages are delivered. They can target specific individuals with personalized messages based on their occupation, location and value chain.
So an input supplier can easily choose 'cassava farmers in northern Ghana' to advise of pests, events, or promotions. Similarly, businesses can program Esoko to ask simple questions over SMS to field agents: 'Have you planted yet?', 'Have you deposited funds?', 'How much have you harvested?' Mobile handsets provide a powerful tool for businesses to interact quickly and cheaply with thousands. This builds relationships, saves money, and expands the scope of what a business can operationalize.
Similar to business, projects and NGOs need to manage people and information. A range of powerful mobile-based applications and reporting tools enables them to do just that on Esoko.
While mandates may differ – a health project needs to collect data on a regular basis from field staff, and an agricultural project may seek to improve inter-regional trade or boost smallholder farmers' revenues – Esoko offers an off-the-shelf, customizable solution for any project.
Organizations can profile and map people, then share and collect data from them using simple SMS. Projects can program Esoko to send out prices, weather or training and best practice reminders to their members. They can also setup polls to collect field data, asking beneficiaries (or their representatives) to answer monitoring questions about whether they have been visited by program officers, how they rate the program, or if they can quantify benefits. Esoko can help your project collect data, do field trainings on your behalf, and help you create a rollout plan, all ensuring that the mobile components of your project are successful.
Government agencies are tasked with policy design but often lack the market information that shapes what those policies should be. With Esoko, agencies can track market prices, production data, commodity quantities, and field activities, all in real-time. This data provides snapshots of the macro environment that can be used on a regular basis to adjust and inform an otherwise less frequent, intensive field investigation.
Providing government enumerators with a suite of mobile-enabled smart tools so they can upload data from the field in real-time makes public officials empowered to track market trends as they happen. Similarly, where governments seek innovative ways to serve citizens, mobile phones present yet another exciting opportunity to get government closer to the people. Information services can use Esoko's powerful tracking tools to send out personalized and customized alerts to targeted people in specific regions. If there are disease outbreaks, special events, or general announcements, Ministries can schedule messages and disseminate them quickly and cheaply.
Furthermore, for those governments seeking more in-depth support services, they can build content knowledgebases on the Esoko platform and publish these onto smartphones for field officers trying to access and provide actionable, localized and relevant advisory content.
Based in Mauritius and Ghana, Esoko is a private business, focussed on changing the way markets work through innovative mobile solutions. We were established in 2005 simply to collect and distribute market prices via SMS, and over the years the team and business has evolved.
Today we are a team of 60, half of whom are building the technology and the other half focussed on providing consulting and support services to our partners and clients across the world. Financed privately by two individuals, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), we believe that private sector service organizations, which are accountable to clients for their revenues and long-term survival, are an effective means of development. We are focussed on client needs, professional services, fiscal discipline and social change. We are an ambitious, animated, committed and fun group of young technology pioneers who believe that the scale and opportunity of African Agriculture is irresistible.