Esoko Networks: Facilitating agriculture through technology
Esoko Networks owns and operates Esoko, a technology-based market information system (MIS) classified as agricultural informatics or e-agriculture. Esoko provides agricultural stakeholders like farmers and traders with market information such as prices, and a platform for advertising and negotiating buy/sell offers. For agricultural institutions like farmer associations, Esoko facilitates direct marketing campaigns using short messaging service (SMS). Created in Ghana, Esoko is a multi-currency, multi-commodity, multi-market MIS developed to provide information on who has what to sell and where, developed for the Internet and mobile channels. On the Internet, Esoko provides pricing and buy/sell information to all users and serves as a platform for organisations that desire a presence on the World Wide Web. On the mobile telephone, Esoko registers members that have requested to receive SMS alerts of commodity market prices and offers to buy/sell. Since it was developed in 2006, Esoko has evolved from a donor or NGO-financed project-based system to an independent commercial standalone system. As a project-based system, Esoko supported the goals and objectives of the funding agency/NGO with the inclusion of commodities of interest and the commodity price tracking; however, as these funded projects were often time-bound and short-lived, the long-term continuity and sustainability of Esoko, led to its transformation in 2008 from a project-based system to a standalone MIS capable of serving multiple markets and projects and commercial ventures in multiple countries. This flexibility makes Esoko adaptable by internationally funded projects, agricultural associations and communities and other participants in the agricultural value chain. Developed in Accra, Ghana, by a team of local and international professionals for African markets, Esoko or 'markets' in Swahili, prides itself of its African origins.