Geoff Coombs (MSc African Studies 2016) has recently launched NshoNam along with Ghanaian co-founders Sam and Olamide. NshoNam is a social impact business which co-designs mobile-based tools with artisanal fishing communities allowing them to better collaborate to sell their catch. The company then also provides a cold-chain logistics network to store and transport produce to a wider market. According to UN FAO estimates there is a population of almost three million people directly and indirectly reliant on the artisanal fishing sector in Ghana representing nearly 10% of the country as a whole. Lack of access to transport and storage and lengthy, fragmented supply chains limit the ability of these communities to sell beyond the beaches and result in significant wasted catch (catch waste is estimated at almost 40% in some nearby markets facing similar challenges). By acting as an offtaker at scale, NshoNam aims to provide greater certainty of earnings to fisherfolk as they return from sea, shorten supply chains to consumers and reduce waste. Fishing communities are amongst the poorest in Ghana and much of the population remains financially excluded. In time, NshoNam hopes to also be able to use transaction data to build credit scoring models and provide simple financial products tailored to the needs and credit capacity of members of these communities.
Following completion of an Impact Hub accelerator programme in Accra for innovative new business models supporting efforts to counter the impact of the pandemic, NshoNam received grant funding from the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and has recently completed a small fundraising round with a group of West African and international angel investors. The business has now started working with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in-country to refine and expand its model across Ghana before seeking to adapt the concept to other markets in the region. NshoNam remains a small venture with big ambitions and welcomes any support that the African Studies community can offer. Special thanks must go to Phyllis Kyei Mensah (MSc. 2016) for expert early introductions to help build the NshoNam team!.